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Grimsby 1-2 Bradford
By: Richard Lord
A goal in the last minute of the game sent Bradford City six points clear of Grimsby in the First Division this afternoon at Blundell Park. Steve Livingstone saw red in the last minute of the first half following an altercation with Robert Molinaar when the Mariners held a slender 1-0 lead.
The first half epitomised a bottom of the table clash, with both sides failing to string any passes together on what was a bumpy pitch. Chris Bolder begin brightly on what was his first full start in a Grimsby Town shirt.
Tony Gallimore failed to make the squad because of injury so Darren Barnard dropped back into defence, with Campbell shuffling to the left of midfield and Bolder filled the void alongside Groves in the centre.
The first serious chance of the match fell to the home side. Good play down the right by Cooke released Boulding who ran in on goal. His clever pass to the left set up Campbell and his even cheekier pass was not detected by Boulding and so the chance went.
Bradford forced a succession of corners but failed to make any of them count with a serious shot on goal. Minutes later they were assisted by the linesman when Ashley Ward was clearly offside but was allowed to continue.
Moments later the linesman who made the decision needed treatment to a bash on the head from what can only be presumed as a missile thrown from the crowd.
Then the Mariners made the breakthrough that their hard work deserved. With the wind behind them, Cooke picked off a loose ball in midfield and threaded a perfect through-ball for Boulding to chase after.
The former Villa front man ran onto it and slid the ball home past Davison on his return to Blundell Park.
There then followed a sequence of bizarre decisions from the officials where Andy Gray and Ashley Ward were time and again given a couple of yards head start over the Town defence.
And when the linesman finally gave a decision the Mariners' way, he received ironic cheers from the crowd.
With Town content to play the half out with free-flowing football, the incident that turned the match occurred. Cooke was fouled when surging forward and the ball got trapped between Livingstone and two City defenders.
As Livvo scrapped for the ball he appeared to push Molinaar away and the Dutchman collapsed to the ground in a heap. The referee ran across to hand Livingstone a straight red before consulting either linesmen.
The linesman in front of the Main stand, who had been subjected to a fair bit of stick, had begun to cross the field to assist the referee but retreated after Livingstone was shown the red card.
The players' hard work was now in the balance and with the wind against them, the second half was going to prove a real test for the Mariners' defence.
Bradford came out a different side and began to stroke the ball around the park, making the extra man count. Boulding was left isolated and only very frequently did he get any decent service.
By this time the visitors were running the show and the equaliser arrived just as Town appeared to have weathered the storm. Andy Gray latched on to a through-ball and he curled the ball past Coyne to make it 1-1.
Coyne had come to the Mariners' rescue on more than one occasion, denying Jamie Lawrence and then Claus Jorgensen with his feet. The Bantams were now pushing for the winner and even the crossbar had a part to play in the matter.
Darren Mansaram was introduced to the game, replacing Cooke and so Boulding dropped to the left of midfield, with Campbell moving to the left and Town maintained their 4-4-1 formation.
As the game drew to a close, Groves had a great opportunity to put Town 2-1 ahead but he failed to hit the back of the net after an inviting cross by Barnard evaded everyone except the player/manager.
Town were awarded a free kick but Campbell's lofted ball failed to find its destination and as a result Bradford scored from the resulting breakaway. Jorgensen received the ball at his feet, and turned before firing a rocket of a shot into the roof of the net.
As fans streamed out of the ground there was yet more controversy when Francis was dismissed for an ill-timed lunge on Barnard. The referee seemed only too keen to give the City player his marching orders in a last-ditch attempt at evening the game up.
However, the result is what matters and it means Town have wasted yet another opportunity to move clear of the bottom three. In effect it has helped Bradford escape danger for the foreseeable future and Town's next hope is to drag Walsall down.
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