League One giant killers Bradford took another premier league scalp in Sunderland which helped the Bantams book a place in the quarter finals of the FA cup.
Bradford who famously beat Chelsea in the previous round would have been confident going into this one. The fact that there are two leagues separating the two sides wouldn’t have bothered Bradford.
The home side came into this cup tie knowing that they were able to call Billy Clarke from the start for the second successive game. On loan Sunderland keeper Jordan Pickford misses out against his parent club.
As for the visitors they had to without former England striker Jermaine Defoe, Danny Graham who hasn’t scored for two tears came in for the 32 year old. Sunderland also changed their goalkeeper as Costel Pantillimon made way for Vito Mannone.
With the pitch being in a poor state, which was well documented – it was the hosts Bradford who took the lead after three minutes. The now fit again Billy Clarke’s effort deflected off Sunderland skipper John O’Shea and into the Black Cats net. The worst possible start for the visitors who were very publicly told about the pitch by Manager Gus Poyet.
Bradford went on to dominate the half – but Sunderland did have their moments, Rory McArdle and Andrew Davies were forced to make last ditch tackles when Sunderland thought they were clear through on goal. The visitors had a huge penalty appeal turned down when Steven Fletcher tumbled in the box – but replays appeared to show the Scotland striker being offside when the offence happened, so a penalty award there, would have been harsh.
The homeside’s direct approach which was more physical to what is played in the premier league, was causing mayhem amongst the Sunderland ranks, it was actually a surprise the score was only 1-0 at half time as the hosts did have chances to increase their lead.
Bradford who were excellently managed by Phil Parkinson, were brave and resilient – something which has been a highlight of their cup run and their season. Danny Graham who replaced Jermaine Defoe for this game, didn’t look like he was going to end his two year goal scoring drought here. Sadly for the former Boro striker, Graham couldn’t continue after half time due to a serious head injury he sustained in the first half.
Danny Graham’s replacement was Connor Wickham, as Sunderland looked to get back into this game and avoid being another victim to a cup upset at the hands of Bradford City. To be fair the Bantams always seemed to be in control of this one – and double their advantage through Jon Stead in the 61st minute which killed the game off as a contest.
Gus Poyet will no doubt be quick to point out the state of the Valley Parade pitch – but how disappointing Sunderland were, I extremely doubt it would have made any difference.The Black Cats will have to focus on premier league survival now after missing out on another long cup run.
Bradford march on to the quarter finals and who ever they face will no doubt be in for a good game. The Bantams have showed here that spirit and hard work get you a long way.