Cheltenham Town suffered their first away defeat of the season after going down 3-1 to Bradford City this afternoon.
Marlon Pack's penalty handed the Robins a lead here at the Coral Windows Stadium today but a Nahki Wells penalty deep into first half injury time struck back for the hosts. Bradford were much more impressive in the second 45 and they capitalised on large amounts of pressure with Wells' second goal of the game and James Meredith's winner.
Disappointment for the Robins and a first defeat in seven league games.
Cheltenham named an unchanged line-up ahead of this afternoon's npower League Two clash with Bradford City with skipper Alan Bennett
the only absentee serving the last game of his three match ban. It was a matter of not changing the system when it's not broken with the Robins unbeaten away from home this season and enjoying a solid run of form in the league. Bradford City were missing influential midfielder Gary Jones but the little and large pairing of Hanson and Wells up front would prove to be a key battle for Elliott and Lowe who looked to maintain the rearguard strength.
The first ten minutes of this half lacked any real beautiful football and it tended to be a long ball opening with Bradford understandably aiming for the lanky James Hanson up front. Bradford started as they meant to go on and heavy challenges on McGlashan and Mohamed ensured the Robins would know they were in for a tough game this afternoon. Cheltenham were attempting to get the play back on the floor and, when they did, they looked effective. Chris Zebroski had the first effort on goal today although it was a soft low effort which McLaughlin was more than happy to collect with ease. Mark Yates' Cheltenham did start to take a little control of this fixture and Bradford needed to be aware of the through balls to McGlashan who was really testing the left back's pace but Meredith was equal with the winger every time he looked to break through the Bradford back line. City's first effort on goal came courtesy of Forsyth from a 20 yard freekick but the midfielder's effort was below par and Scott Brown was more than happy to see it rise into the giant stand behind him.
A foul on Darren Carter 25 yards from goal gave the Robins an opportunity to test McLaughlin in the Bradford goal but Mohamed's wild drive could only test the palms of the home fans in the top tier of the stand behind the goal. Bradford had a better chance when Bradford got the ball back into play but Scott Brown was equal to a floated Nahki Wells effort on 20 minutes. The best chance of the game soon came and it was from the head of Hanson but Brown was alert and pushed the ball from goal to deny the lanky forward but seconds later Brown was beaten by him although Hanson's second header was wide of goal. It was a wake up call for Cheltenham but they reacted well and in the best possible fashion. Penn's ball through to McGlashan set the winger off into the area but he was bundled over by Andrew Davies on the baseline and the referee immediately pointed to the spot. Marlon Pack, wearing the captain's armband, stepped up and struck a low drive into the bottom corner for 1-0 and his second goal of the season.
Mark Yates' aim was to frustrate the loud Bantams home crowd and they were certainly heading that way when Mohamed cleared Davies' header off the line and had to be treated by Ian Weston. City were pushing forward and they were handed a chance eight minutes from the break with a freekick but Nahki Wells put the 20 yard set piece over the bar. Bradford were causing a lot of problems with Hanson winning everything in the air but Keith Lowe and Steve Elliott were holding their own in what was always going to be a tough 90 minutes. It was feisty game and it began to heat up when McGlashan was brought down in the area but the referee, who reached for his whistle, didn't blow much to frustration of Penn who was then booked for dissent. Nahki Wells was next up to go into the referee's notepad after a clumsy foul on Pack and Carter soon followed with a rash foul in midfield. It was turning into a manic game with plenty of talking points but Bradford were given something to cheer when Jombati was caught with a handball in his own area and the Bantams were handed a penalty on 49 minutes. Nahki Wells stepped up and put the ball away for 1-1 much to the appreciation of his support.
Bradford City 1-1 Cheltenham Town
Cheltenham perhaps needed to adopt calmer heads in the second period but they almost found themselves a goal behind straight away when Forsyth's cross was met by the head of Nahki Wells but the superb effort was inches wide of Brown's goal. A headed effort from Elliott threatened to put the Robins back in front but the defender almost gifted the opposition a goal after 55 minutes when he failed to deal with a ball and Nathan Doyle stole possession but the midfielder completely messed his big chance up and Lowe and Brown were able to clear any danger. Cheltenham really did need to be more careful but they could have had another goal had Mohamed's turn and strike had been anywhere other than McLaughlin's gloves. It was an exciting half of football without the theatrics of the first period and Mohamed once again had an effort to re-take the lead but his header from Billy Jones' chipped cross was well over.
Bradford made a double substitution just after the hour mark with Zavon Hines and Will Atkinson replacing Forsyth and Thompson. Those changes sparked Bradford off into a good spell of pressure and Luke Oliver was inches away from putting them ahead with a diving header. That pressure soon did the trick for the hosts and it was the troublesome Nahki Wells once again. A cross found the striker at the back post and he avoided the offside flag to smash in an angled effort and put his side 2-1 up. It could have been 3-1 moments later but Brown parried well from Hanson's volley to relieve the pressure. Cheltenham needed a response and they almost got it when Zebroski got onto the end of a long ball but his effort over the keeper hit the bar and was called offside anyway. Mark Yates responded by bringing top goalscorer Shaun Harrd into play at the expense of Russ Penn on 73 minutes and the Robins settled but Bradford stood firm against their attacks with Oliver and Davies enjoying a profitable day in the air.
City's stubborn defence paid dividends for he attackers when left back James Meredith broke into the area past Lowe and slammed an effort past Brown for 3-1. Bradford were firmly on top now with Cheltenham struggling to find any kind of response to their host's attacks. Sam Deering and Darryl Duffy were introduced minutes before full time but Duffy's first piece of action was to tumble after being challenged in area and receive a yellow card for his efforts. Incredibly harsh on the Scot who did ride some contact. The late attacks of Cheltenham largelyy came to nothing and Bradford won the game. A first away loss of the season for Cheltenham Town and the first in six league games.
Bradford City 3-1 Cheltenham Town
Bradford City FC (4-4-2):
McLaughlin (GK); McArdle, Davies, Oliver, Meredith; Thompson (Atkinson 62), Ravenhill (C), Doyle, Forsyth (Hines 62); Hanson, Wells
Subs not used:
Duke (GK), Darby, McHugh, Jones, Connell
Cheltenham Town FC (4-2-3-1):
Brown (GK); Jombati, Lowe, Elliott, Jones; Carter, Pack (C); McGlashan, Penn (Harrad 73), Mohamed (Deering 87); Zebroski (Duffy 87)
Subs not used:
Roberts (GK), Andrew, Graham, Goulding
Mr. Brendan Malone
9,648 (131 from Bradford)
Robins Star Man:
Billy Jones - Three goals conceded but Jones hardly put a foot wrong. He coped well with some raw pace and produced a good display.