Bradford City 1 Grimsby Town 1: One shot on target is enough to save the day for below-par Bantams as Mariners endure more misery versus their Yorkshire rivals

Alex Gilliead celebrates his equaliser for Bradford City with Brad Halliday. Picture: Bruce Rollinson
Alex Gilliead celebrates his equaliser for Bradford City with Brad Halliday. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

After being the better side at Valley Parade, they spoiled it from their perspective at the death.

On an occasion which was by no means satisfactory from their standpoint, the Bantams were grateful for any sort of lifeline. You take what comes along.

It happened in the 89th minute with their first shot on target.

It was precious and enough to yield a point.

Local boy Bobby Pointon, whose encouraging second-half performance was a rare crumb of comfort, set up the interval substitute and he drove home an fine angled drive.

The relief was abound around the majority of BD8, if less so among the Mariners ranks, with their side’s winless run against the Bantams extending to 19 games.

It was a poor performance from City, even it was better on the restart. But the hosts huffed and puffed and had scant quality, until producing one redeeming moment out of the bag.

Gilliead found the net for the first time since this same fixture on April 1. It was very timely as City demonstrably lacked threat and a focal point without Andy Cook.

Splendid sunshine greeted both sides, with Grimsby supporters populating the side of the Midland Road end and the top tier of the Bradford end.

The atmosphere was crackling and there was a sense of occasion and expectation in the sun. Unfortunately, the sweltering heat did not bring out the best of City, quite the opposite.

The more polished and probing work came from a Grimsby side who produced some nice pockets of possession with Kamil Conteh conducting things from the middle of the park.

City’s lateral passing and slow tempo began to grate on home punters as the half wore on.

They got behind Grimsby just once in the opening half-hour, with Jamie Walker briefly in space on the right.

He cut inside and with not many team-mates in close proximity and the Mariners backline well stacked, he fired high and wide.

Grimsby had tested Harry Lewis by virtue of Arthur Gnahoua’s early low shot before an offside flag was raised.

They looked the more likely, but Sam Stubbs and Matty Platt were on message at the back at least for the Bantams.

Early bookings were worthy of the notebook with Ciaran Kelly penalised for a late one on Gavan Holohan before Eisa was cautioned after showing a bit too much adrenalin on his return to BD8 following a heavy challenge on Brad Halliday.

Danny Amos was carded later on in the half after catching Walker. The free-kick, from a decent position, was a disappointment in keeping with a low-grade half, a real switch-off for the watching viewers.

Pointon switched around in the front three with Matt Derbyshire, given nothing to feed off and Walker. There was nothing for City to get their teeth into, unfortunately, with Mark Hughes looking visibly frustrated on the touchline.

Rose served up a warning when his dangerous low cross was pawed out by Lewis with no Mariners player following up.

Soon after, City’s keeper was picking the ball out of his net following an opener from the visitors which few home supporters could complain about after Rose got between Matty Platt and Ciaran Kelly to head in Toby Mullarkey’s excellent cross on the right.

The jeers at the interval from the claret and amber faithful were not unwarranted.

The thought was that City had to either change their approach or personnel on the resumption - or quite possibly both after a waste of an opening half in truth which was very passive.

To his credit, Hughes did both, switching to a 4-2-3-1 formation from a 3-4-2-1 with Rayhaan Tulloch starting on the left and the energy of Gilliead called for.

Kevin McDonald and Kelly made way.

The intent and front-foot play which Hughes spoke of beforehand was at least more apparent on the restart, with City - attacking the Kop - winning a flurry of early corners.

The crowd, disconnected in the first period, were given something to feed off, at last.

Moved to the right, Pointon looked more comfortable. One moment saw him cut inside and fire a pot-shot well wide.

The endeavour was there and the home punters at least appreciated that.

Another change saw Chisom Afoka thrown on midway through the half for his debut.

A decent effort on goal soon saw Halliday’s long-ranger fly over the top, with Mariners keeper Jake Eastwood still not called into action for his first bit of meaningful work.

The first save of note came at the other end as Grimsby went close to sealing it with Lewis showing good reactions to parry Gnahoua’s stinging low drive.

Gilliead saved the day, with an excellent right-footed drive from just inside the box. And breathe.

Bradford City: Lewis; Platt, Stubbs (Tomlinson 84), Kelly (Gilliead 45); Halliday, Smallwood, McDonald (Tulloch 45), Richards, Pointon, Walker (Osadebe 82), Derbyshire (Afoka 67). Unused substitutes: Doyle, Oyegoke.

Grimsby Town: Eastwood; Mullarkey, Rodgers, Maher, Amos (Efete 73); Conteh; Gnahoua, Holohan, Clifton, Eisa (Pyke 79); Rose. Unused substitutes: Cartwright, Waterfall, Ainley, Andrews, Hunt.

Referee: S Purkiss (London).

Attendance: 18,879 (1,729 Grimsby supporters).