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MATCH REPORT: United 3 - 1 Bantams (3-2 agg)

Report from the Saturday afternoon second leg game

20 May 2023

Match Reports

MATCH REPORT: United 3 - 1 Bantams (3-2 agg)

Report from the Saturday afternoon second leg game

20 May 2023

It was most definitely all to play for as the Bantams brought a one-goal advantage to Brunton Park for the League Two play-off semi-final second leg showdown.

Manager Paul Simpson made one change from the weekend away game with John-Kymani Gordon, back from a three-game suspension, in for Omari Patrick.

The 18 were otherwise unchanged from that thrilling encounter at Valley Parade.

It was an incredible atmosphere as a near capacity crowd roared the team through every stage of the warm-up, and then as they walked onto the pitch for the big kick-off.

United fashioned the first half-chance when Huntington cleared on the volley, sending a pass straight at Gordon. He wriggled his way inside with a winding run but the angle was tight when he struck it and Lewis was able to save comfortably at his near stick.

Jack Armer picked up an early yellow when he was deemed to have challenged late on Halliday, and there was a scare at the United end when Whelan's clearance was charged down by Banks.

He took the rebound into the box, and his pull back eventually came to Smallwood. Shots were twice blocked as he looked to finish it off.

Carlisle thought they'd levelled things up on 16 minutes when the ball was worked well to Gordon. He cut inside and let fly from distance but a touch from Lewis took into the post. Moxon reacted first to gather the loose pieces under his control but his cut back was blocked at source.

Cook was wild on the volley when he went for it with a snapshot for the Bantams, as they battled to get a toe hold in the game, and he wheeled away in disappointment as the ball sailed high.

The deserved equaliser came on 21 minutes, and it was sparked by a charge from Joel Senior as he angled his run inside from the right flank. He played a one-two, with Moxon involved and available, but Lewis dived to parry. Gordon was alert, and he hunted it down, but it could well have been Brad Halliday who inadvertently put it into his own nets.

There was almost an immediate response when a high ball into the area caused problems. Smallwood and Gilliead challenged, and Walker got a touch to send it onto the post. It bounced back for the away skipper to strike, but an important block protected the target.

A Moxon free kick had Whelan interested, but Stubbs got in the way to put it behind. Armer put the delivery low and hard, and it came off Halliday, who was relieved to see it hit the post. But Lewis had to be at his best when Moxon rifled the ricochet through bodies. The stopper somehow got enough on it to divert it over the bar.

Whelan wasn't too far away with an instinctive 18-yard toe poke following hard work from Garner, but it always arrowing wide. The same player dinked an overhead kick over the back line from a Garner nod down, but Lewis appeared to be untroubled.

Into the second period and the crowd was set to celebrate as Gordon spun with the ball at his feet. Garner asked for it, and it was on target until a striped shirt got in the way. Armer stayed out wide as it came back to him but his cross had just too much on it and Lewis scooped it up.

Corey Whelan needed treatment for a bang to the nose, but he was back on his feet quickly to cause problems. There were huge appeals for a penalty when he clipped the ball inside the area through Halliday's legs, but the referee ignored the question.

Cook showed strength and poise as he protected a high ball forward before bringing Banks into play for the visitors. The wide man looked to bend it but he got his connection wrong and it whistled off towards the corner flag.

Bradford were almost the architects of their own downfall on the hour when they tried to play out from the back from a goal kick. Lewis overhit it, Clayton missed it, and Garner was suddenly on the march. Lewis redeemed himself with a dive to grab the cut back.

The Bantams had a run of corners in what was a good away spell, and a nicked delivery from Gilliead after a clearance from Barclay had Stubbs interested. He jumped but couldn't find the header that was needed.

Substitutes Taylor Charters and Omari Patrick were involved within 60 seconds of their introduction with the Carlisle lad spreading plat to Senior. He put Patrick on the overlap, and his cross found Charters on the advance. It was a heavy touch and it zipped wide.

Patrick was accurate with a delivery, as was Armer, as the Blues stepped things up, but the finish the dippers needed wasn't quite there.

Things stayed tight through the closing 15 minutes, with neither side wanting to make a mistake, and half chances were charged down or blocked at both ends.

A whopping nine minutes of time was added, and Patrick helped to raise the decibels with a volley from a Huntington pass that was deflected behind. Senior stayed deep to put the clearance back into the mix but the slightest of touches took it away from Edmondson. Whelan and Charters were next to take over, but Edmondson's near post flick from close range was gathered by Lewis at the second attempt.

There was almost a sting in the tail when trickery from Banks and a little bit of luck left Smallwood in acres of space. He lobbed Holy from a tight angle but the remainder of the strike force were on their heels, and the moment was gone as the game moved into half an hour of extra time.

An error from Stubbs gave the hosts a corner on 98 minutes, and it proved to be a huge moment as Halliday's touch set it up for Guy to hit, from the edge of the area. Lewis stood no chance as it swirled its way into the bottom corner.

Gibson shot wide as confidence flowed through the team. with the crowd on its feet and in jubilant mood, but Osadebe was a yard too high with a ripping volley from a cushioned Cook header.

The start of the second period brought the aggregate equaliser the Bantams wanted, and it was Banks who sparked it as he nipped in behind Huntington. He pulled it back for Derbyshire to sweep home from just three yards out.

The home lead was regained on 112 minutes when Moxon bent a beauty towards the penalty spot. Ben Barcay, who knows he will miss the final, with parent club Stockport waiting, got enough in it to wrong foot Lewis and put the hosts back in the driving seat.

Bradford had one last chance to pull level when Osadebe bullied his way through midfield before popping it to Derbyshire. He pulled the trigger on a cross but it was too far in front of Cook and that was that as the Blues looked to their Wembley play-off final trip next weekend.


Match Sponsor Pirelli 
Associate SponsorStanwix Holiday Park
Match Ball Sponsor Telford Automobiles
Match Ball SponsorSIG Roofing
Match Ball Sponsor - Persimmon



Carlisle United - Halliday (og 21), Guy (99), Barclay (112)

Bradford City - Derbyshire (106)



Carlisle United - Armer (6), Garner (60), Guy (96)

Bradford City - Clayton (42)



Carlisle United - Holy, Barclay, Huntington (c), Whelan (Robinson 120), Senior (Gibson 91), McCalmont (Patrick 70), Guy, Moxon, Armer, Gordon (Charters 70), Garner (Edmondson 65). Subs - Kelly, Dennis.

Bradford City - Lewis, Halliday, Ridehalgh, Smallwood (c), Cook, Walker (Derbyshire 100), Gilliead (East 69), Banks (Platt 108), Crichlow, Stubbs, Clayton (Osadebe 69). Subs - Doyle (gk), Pereira, Nevers.


Match officials

Referee - Simon Mather
Assistant Referee 1 - Darren Williams
Assistant Referee 2 - Steven Rushton
Fourth Official - Benjamin Speedie
Observer - Iain Siddall
Reserve Assistant Referee - Mark Cunliffe


Attendance - 15,401 (1,948)

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