Leeds United 3
Nunez 2, McCormack
Bradford City 2
This was an excellent game. And whilst at the end Leeds United rightly triumphed there was enough in Bradford City’s performance to give their large travelling support confidence for the coming season.
With both sets of fans in good voice there was a lively atmosphere at the start of the match. Bradford’s Mark Stewart had an early shot easily saved by Andrew Lonergan before Michael Flynn hit a 30-yard drive just over the Leeds crossbar. It was the home side however that created the first real chance, Ramon Nunez hitting his shot horribly high after Adam Clayton had found the striker unmarked in the box just six yards out.
On 31 minutes it was the away side that took the lead when after a great run Stewart pulled the ball back for Jack Compton to push home from four yards out. Cue ecstatic celebrations amongst the 4,000 Bantam fans. In comparison the earlier abuse by Leeds fans in the Kop towards owner Ken Bates now reached a peak with many questioning a lack of investment in the side by chanting ‘where’s the money gone?’ a reference to Leeds having spent just £200,000 in the summer.
Things might have got worse for the home side but James Hanson was unable to keep his header down as half-time approached. When the sides returned after the break it took Leeds less than a minute to get back on level terms, when following a fine move Nunez scored his first goal for the club with a right foot shot that crashed into the net off the underside of the bar.
Jonathan Howson and Ross McCormack then both missed good chances to put the home side ahead before a magnificent effort from Flynn re-established City’s lead. Chesting down the ball the Bradford midfielder hit a crashing left foot drive from the corner of the penalty area beyond Lonergan and into the far corner of the net. It was a goal fit for any level and an inspired City could have then had a third only for David Syers to overrun the ball as he shaped to shoot, Lonergan going down smartly to push the ball behind for a corner.
With 20 minutes remaining Leeds equalised for the second time when an unchallenged McCormack rose to head substitute Tom Lees cross beyond Oscar Jonsson. Five minutes the home side fashioned what proved to be the winning goal when Jonsson got his hands to Lloyd Sam’s pull back into the box but couldn’t hold on to the ball, Nunez sweeping home from three yards out.
Behind for the first time Bradford strived hard to fashion an equaliser but it was Leeds who looked the more likely to score in the final fifteen minutes with McCormack going close on a number of occasions.
* Standing up report - the crowd at Elland Road was close to 18,000 and of these I’d estimate that well over a third stood up for the whole match, with most of the 4,000 away fans doing so and a majority in the Leeds home end also doing likewise.