By Matthew Kermode
Bradford City WFC went down to their first league defeat of the season with a narrow 1-0 loss away at Chester le Street Town.
The game started slowly, the first meaningful action came on eight minutes when Monika Stube conceded a free kick just outside the City box, but keeper Aimee Routledge only had to watch the ball sail harmlessly wide of her goal.
Manager Steve Winterburn shuffled his formation for this game and pushed captain Zoe Roberts forward into a holding midfield role, with three central defenders and wing backs instead of the regular back four. It was Roberts who had City’s first attacking effort of the game, curling a low long-range free kick wide of the far post.
The majority of the first half exchanges were played out in the middle third, with the occasional attempt on goal. After half an hour City striker Falone Sumaili picked up a through ball but prodded her shot from the edge of the box just wide.
Chester le Street went closest just before the break as a looping header from the edge of the box looped over Routledge only to bounce back off the top of the bar to give Sophie Parrish an easy clearance.
Half Time - Chester Le Street Town 0 - 0 Bradford City
Two minutes into the second half midfielder Liuli Dyson hobbled off to be replaced by her former Leeds Utd team-mate Jemma White.
The first part of the second half continued in the same vein as the first half, with the sides exchanging speculative shots without really troubling either keeper. Roberts tried to take the initiative with three trademark long-range shots that forced the Chester le Street keeper into saves.
On 76 minutes came the decisive moment of the match, City failed to clear their lines down the right, and a low cross found Jessica Ellison unmarked on the far post. The striker tucked the ball home past the helpless Routledge.
City looked for a way back and spent most of the last 10 minutes camped in the Chester le Street half but found themselves repeatedly frustrated by a stubborn home side.
Full Time - Chester Le Street Town 0 - 0 Bradford City
Steve Winterburn was disappointed with the score but used it as another opportunity to learn about his side. He said: “It was a game that I know both managers were disappointed with their teams finishing and under par performances. A game which after 45 minutes I just knew one goal was going to decide the outcome and with 90% of decisions going against us, I just knew the outcome was going to hurt us more.
“We are now three matches in, and so far, I’ve started three different line-ups due to injuries and it hasn’t helped us settle, but at the same time it has given me the opportunity to see which players have earned the right to start the next game and hopefully I can get the team settled and back to winning ways. Leeds United are up next and it won’t be easy, but the team I put out will be ready and up for the challenge”.
Next up for City is the first West Yorkshire derby of the season, as Leeds United travel to Eccleshill this Wednesday. The clubs will welcome mascots from Horsforth St Margaret’s and Thackley Typhoons U12s. The sides will also be showing their support for organ donation charity Be A Hero, who Leeds United are partnering with this season.
City Skipper, Zoe Roberts knows the importance of a big performance in a big game, she said: “There’s always a lot of hype before a midweek derby but we want to play our game and focus on playing to the standard we know we can.
“We need to take what we’ve learnt from previous games and in training into the game and be focused and ready for what will be a tough game. We need to play to our strengths and work together as a team and the results will come”.