Paul Mullin’s second half headed finish was cancelled out late on by Adam Wilson, as Bradford City and Wrexham shared the spoils in front of 21,500 fans.
Upon Phil Parkinson’s return to his old home, whereby he enjoyed so much success, there was an anticipation sweeping through the air for this fixture.
After sacking manager Mark Hughes on October 4, caretaker manager Kevin McDonald still remained in charge of the Bantams, boasting an upturn in recent results.
Winning all three of their previous games, conceding only one goal, the task at Parkinson’s hand became just that bit harder.
The first half of football was an odd one to sum up. Both sides were there for the fight, embodied by James Jones’ triumphant sliding challenge in the sixth minute, but the game lacked attacking substance.
One could put this down to a whole host of reasons; Wrexham’s organised defensive display or even Bradford’s tight man marking of Elliot Lee, to which even he couldn’t wriggle out of.
At the top, there was a change for the Red Dragons. Ollie Palmer had been playing remarkably well away from home, but due to Steven Fletcher’s recent form, he was rewarded with his first Wrexham start.
His hold-up play for his 65 minutes on the pitch was second to none, as he would often win the ball and then beat his man.
The two highlights from this were in the 13th and 45th minute, when Fletcher made Ash Taylor and Sam Stubbs look like schoolboys at the back, running rings around the defensive duo. The two incidents resulted in a weak penalty shout and an anti-climactic dragged shot well wide of goal.
Although we had a lot of moments in the first half, Harry Lewis wasn’t forced into action, and so leaving the feeling of a half with little substance.
There was one cutting edge chance though, seeing Mullin put his diving header wide from right in the goalmouth. He was correct in opting for the header instead of trying to bundle the ball in, but the pace of the ball skidding off the surface made the opportunity that little bit too difficult.
The cross from Ryan Barnett for this chance was glorious and credit must be bestowed onto him for his performance for the full ninety minutes.
Having been suspended for three games following his red card at home to Crewe Alexandra, and additionally being an unused substitute in the EFL Trophy game against the Railwaymen, the performance he put in against Bradford City was beyond impressive.
The home side created next to nothing down Barnett’s wing, and at the other end, his pace, trickery and crossing accuracy proved to be too much for the Bantams, leading to another pinpoint ball for Mullin in the 68th minute, to which he headed home this time around.
This goal came at the perfect time too, because from the hour mark, the almost twenty thousand home fans had found their voice, and the atmosphere in the University of Bradford Stadium had grown ten-fold.
Although linked to their territorial play, the shouts from the Bradford fans were more of encouragement, as clear-cut chances were few and far between.
This was the case right up until their goal too, where the encouragement turned into sheer delight.
In the 85th minute, Andy Cook won a header from Lewis’ goal-kick, with four Wrexham players stood helpless around him. Substitute Jacob Mendy then miskicked the flicked on header, before falling down trying to recontrol the ball under pressure from Rayhaan Tulloch.
Winning the ball, Tulloch immediately slipped the ball through to the on-running Wilson, whose first shot was blocked well by Tom O’Connor. Sadly, the tight situation on the edge of the box left the surrounding Wrexham players with nowhere to go and momentum thus favoured the bold. The ball deflected back into the path of Tulloch, who whilst sliding, sliced it off the crossbar and into the back of the net.
The Red Dragons then did exceptionally well to survive the next ten minutes, with balls flying into the box and the stadium crying out for penalty shouts at every opportunity.
Not many would have begrudged the Bantams of a point after ninety minutes, but I believe the cauldron like atmosphere to have over-exaggerated their perceived domination of the game in the final half an hour.
Parkinson spoke post-match of the Bradford fans’ ability to suck the ball in at the Kop end, but this didn’t seem to effect Wrexham in their defence at all, aside from the singular moment of Wilson’s goal.
The point ultimately moved Wrexham up to fourth position in the table, five points off league leaders Stockport County.
Wrexham will now host a struggling Sutton United at the STōK Cae Ras tomorrow, with nothing but three points on the agenda.