League Two Gameweek Five: Cagey Clash At Valley Parade?4 min read
Have Bradford found their identity?
In the first two games, Bradford City looked disjointed because they were shoehorning three strikers by trade into the same XI – Clayton Donaldson, James Vaughan and Eoin Doyle.
The latter, who operated unnaturally as a number 10, subsequently left for Swindon, before manager Gary Bowyer switched to 4-4-2.
Although Bradford were not exactly refined in last week’s 3-0 win over Oldham – or their 1-0 triumph at Stevenage in midweek – there is a simplicity about their system and a sense of square pegs in square holes that contributed to their victories.
Plus, they owe a debt of gratitude to goalkeeper Richard O’Donnell who, after coming in for criticism at times last season, produced a string of crucial saves at Stevenage in a gritty, dogged defensive display.
Anthony O’Connor also appears to be re-building bridges with Bradford fans with his strong performances at centre-back, next to the athletic Ben Richards-Everton, who arrived in the summer.
Bowyer will have to re-think his plans again after Adam Henley – deputizing at left-back at Stevenage in midweek – was forced off through injury.
— Aaron Bower (@AaronBower) August 20, 2019
The team arguably looked better after Connor Wood took Henley’s place at left-back and Hope Akpan came into midfield – so he may be tempted to make at least one change to the starting XI.
Mixed start for Forest Green
Forest Green Rovers, who lost 2-1 at Port Vale last time out, have had a mixed start to the season in terms of results, with seven points from a possible 12.
Performances, though, have been rather underwhelming.
1-0 home victories over Oldham and Grimsby were inspired predominantly by substitutes, Taylor Allen and Junior Mondal respectively, but for long portions of those games they looked lacklustre.
The Green were lucky to escape Walsall with a point, having been dominated in the second half of their 1-1 draw in the Black Country.
Ironically, Forest Green played well in the first half at Vale Park last time out but, in Mark Cooper’s words, they “wasted” that half due to marking space from crosses, rather than marking their men.
That is something they will have to improve on in West Yorkshire, considering that they will be facing powerful front-men in Vaughan and Donaldson – we can expect them to focus heavily on their defensive work in preparation for this match.
There is every possibility that Cooper’s side will grow into the season, because they have more depth in the current squad this year.
Equally, though, there is a sense early on that they miss the control and creativity that was so often provided by playmaker Reece Brown, now at Huddersfield – so this could be a tight encounter.
Read Gabriel’s Championship weekend preview.