Bradford City 0-0 Shrewsbury Town Six Things: lively but goalless

Toto Nsiala made some big clearances –

Bradford City’s 0-0 draw with Shrewsbury Town could not be put down to a lack of attacking endeavour from either side; here’s six things from the game.

Bradford battled

Timothee Dieng was one of four new faces to come into the Bradford eleven and his physical presence helped them in central areas. Charlie Wyke and Kai Bruenker – who played up top in a 4-4-2 – worked hard to draw centre-backs Toto Nsiala and Mat Sadler out of position. The Bantams therefore got into some good positions but perhaps lacked the quality to capitalize; Tony McMahon’s free-kick flew over the bar before Tyrell Robinson rolled the ball wide from Bruenker’s lay-off.

Whalley a threat

Although Shrewsbury didn’t win as many of the structural battles in the first half, they looked the more compelling as an attacking entity. Not for the only time, the inventive Shaun Whalley turned a sluggish Stephen Warnock to force Matt Kilgallon out of position, but the winger was off-target. On the other flank, Alex Rodman made plenty of driving runs but testing the goalkeeper proved a challenge.

Nolan’s increased influence

For a 20-minute spell after the break, Shrewsbury had the continued verve of Whalley and Rodman, but attacking midfielder Jon Nolan’s increased influence made their attacks more coherent, as we saw in one fine move. Lone front-man Stefan Payne, who otherwise hadn’t enjoyed his best evening, did an excellent dummy from Whalley’s right-wing cross to allow Nolan to shoot, only to find Doyle in the right place.

Bradford’s reprieve

Had the match continued as 11 against 11, momentum might have favoured the Shrews. Instead, Omar Beckles – whose composure at left-back had stood-out – stretched for a loose ball with Nat Knight-Percival when on a yellow card and carelessly left his foot in before being sent off. Paul Hurst was brave thereafter – striker Carlton Morris replaced midfielder Bryn Morris – but legs tired and the balance of the team wasn’t quite the same.

End product missing

The absence of a recognized left-back in Salop’s 3-4-2 gave Alex Gilliead space to make tracks down the right in a late spell of pressure from Bradford, which forced last-ditch clearances from James Bolton and Aristote Nsiala. It was a credit to how well the visitors defended though that they gave little away with 10-men, but also a sign of Bradford’s lack of quality. Last season’s stars – especially midfielder Josh Cullen and winger Mark Marshall – might have made a difference in that last half hour. Grayson’s men were not found wanting for effort tonight, but more quality is required next season.

Play-offs for Salop?

In August, few would have imagined a 10-man Shrewsbury side leaving Valley Parade slightly disappointed with a point; a sign of how far they’ve come. The result though means that by the time they kick-off against Charlton on Tuesday, they could be seven points behind both Blackburn and Wigan. Hurst’s side are on course to reach 92 points, enough to comfortably finish in the top two in each of the last three seasons; the form of two giants this year though means they may soon have to prepare for the play-offs.