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REPORT | Wrexham AFC 0-1 Bradford City

Red Dragons fall to late defeat at STōK Cae Ras

10 February 2024

Match Reports

REPORT | Wrexham AFC 0-1 Bradford City

Red Dragons fall to late defeat at STōK Cae Ras

10 February 2024

Wrexham AFC succumbed to defeat against Bradford City at the STōK Cae Ras, as Andy Cook’s 90th minute strike secured a 1-0 victory for Graham Alexander’s side.

The hosts started the game strongly and had the better of the chances in North Wales, with Sam Walker kept busy in the Bradford goal.

However, Wrexham struggled to create the same chances in the second half, and they were eventually made to pay for not taking advantage of their earlier dominance in the fixture.

Arthur Okonkwo made a crucial save in the 83rd minute to deny Cook from the penalty spot, but it wasn’t to be as the veteran striker eventually made up for his failed spot-kick.

Cook took advantage of a smart break from the visitors, following up on his initial effort to fire home with just added time remaining to give Bradford a vital three points.

Phil Parkinson named two changes to the Starting XI from last weekend, as Steven Fletcher and Eoghan O’Connell replaced Sam Dalby and Jordan Tunnicliffe in the side, with the Red Dragons looking to get back to winning ways in North Wales.

Paul Mullin got proceedings underway at the STōK Cae Ras, and it was the hosts who registered the first opportunity of any real danger on a sunny afternoon in Wrexham.

Mullin’s cross in the 8th minute found Fletcher, who powerfully headed towards goal from close-range, forcing Sam Walker into an impressive stop early-on to keep the deadlock intact.

Andy Cannon was next to fire an effort towards goal, as he unleashed a thunderous long-range effort on his right foot which momentarily had Walker worried and scrambling in the 10th minute.

Parkinson’s side continued to gain further control in the match, as Bradford struggled to contend with Wrexham’s swift and efficient build-up play.

Ryan Barnett then tried his luck from range in the 21st minute after a slick one-two with Mullin, before unleashing a right footed strike that took a slight deflection to leave Walker scampering across his goal to push the ball past the post.

Wrexham’s best chance of the first half came after 26 minutes, as James McClean’s brilliant set piece delivery from over 40-yards out found Hayden as his powerful header drifted just wide of the post.

Just a minute later, Mullin was seemingly brought down on the break by a Bradford defender, raising serious appeals for a penalty kick which were waved away by referee Ben Speedie.

McClean then saw an effort of his own denied, as his half-volley from inside a crowded Bradford box stung the hands of Walker, while the visitors managed to deal with the rebound after 33 minutes.

The Bantams managed to register a few chances of their own though, as Alex Gilliead and Calum Kavanagh both attempted to test Arthur Okonkwo on the brink of half-time.

It didn’t cause the 22-year-old any serious issues, as the sides went into the break level in North Wales.

While Wrexham enjoyed a relatively successful opening 45 minutes, Bradford should’ve taken the lead just five minutes after the restart as Kavanagh spurned a golden opportunity to give his side the advantage from close-range.

Ryan Barnett enjoyed a great deal of success down the right-side, often getting the better of Gilliead at left-back and managing to produce a delivery into the box to put the Bantams under pressure.  

After 62 minutes, Wrexham’s number 29 found Lee with a pin-point cross but the Red Dragons’ top goal scorer couldn’t quite manage to get his header on target. His effort drifted agonizingly wide of the post, as the hosts continued in their search of an opener.

Parkinson rolled the dice with 20 minutes remaining, as new signing Luke Bolton and Sam Dalby came on in place of Barnett and Steven Fletcher.

Chances started to become few and far between, as both teams battled away in a tense second-half showing, with Wrexham not able to quite make the same impact as in the first 45 minutes.

Jack Marriott came on to make his home debut for Wrexham as he replaced Paul Mullin for the final ten minutes of the match.

Referee Ben Speedie pointed to the spot and gave Bradford a penalty in the 81st minute. Andy Cook stepped up to take the spot-kick for the visitors, having been brought down by Aaron Hayden to win the penalty.

In the most crucial of moments, Okonkwo stood up to the test and denied Cook, diving the right way and managing to keep the ball out of his own net as the STōK Cae Ras erupted in jubilation.

However, Wrexham were handed the cruellest of blows in the 90th minute as Cook went on to make up for his failure to convert the earlier spot-kick.

In a highly charged final few minutes in North Wales, the visitors broke though on the counter and found their number nine, who initially forced Okonkwo into a good save from close-range.

However, he could do nothing about the rebound, as Cook was fastest to react, firing home to send the away support into wild celebrations.

Wrexham continued to push on for an equaliser in the six minutes of additional time, but failed to convert any of their chances as they fell to a late defeat against the Bantams.

Wrexham AFC: Okonkwo, Hayden, Tozer (C), O'Connell, Barnett (Bolton 70’), Cannon (Jones 81’), Evans, Lee, McClean (Mendy 87’), Mullin (Marriott 81’), Fletcher (Dalby 70’).

Subs not used: Howard, Cleworth, Mendy.

Bradford City: Walker, Halliday, Platt, Smallwood (C), Kavanagh (Young 64’), Cook, Gilliead, Kelly, Chapman (Odour 64’) (Stubbs 90+2’), Tomkinson, Richards (McDonald 41’).

Subs not used: Doyle, Smith, Pointon.

Match Attendance: 12,447 (1,153)

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