How about that?! The Saddlers fight back from 3 goals down to draw 3-3 with Bradford, Amadou Bakayoko with the 87th minute equaliser to steal a point from what looked like an impossible position.
An odd first 45 minutes saw the lads go into the break 2-0 down. Bradford punishing some sloppy defending in the middle of the park for the first and allowing a striker to control and finish a cross from basically inside our own 6 yard box for the second. The midfield was very frustrating to watch (Chambers in particular looking his age for the first time), they didn’t seem to be on the same wavelength as one another but that being said, I did not think Bradford were good value for a 2 goal lead. The Bantams just absolutely clinical when then did find themselves in those two positions. Other than that we did not look troubled and Bradford did not look threatening…so obviously they scored a third within the opening moments of the second half. Leahy unfortunately turning a cross into our own net.
And then the lads burst into life. With Bradford surely feeling the points were in the bag and the reds having nothing to fear we seemed to go up 3 or 4 gears and really show some quality and attacking rhythm we have been craving for months.
Leahy pulled us back into the match with a dominating header from a Devlin cross, the two wing-backs combining to great effect. The crowds really got going then and the atmosphere was the best I have felt for a while at home. The way the boys were coming forward in wave after wave of attack, it seemed everyone in the ground really did believe we could get something from the game despite needing two more. Our optimism and expectation only heightened when debutant Tyler Roberts directed a wonderful header into the top corner bringing the lads to within one and still half an hour to play. All 22 players on the pitch could feel where the game was going then.
Bradford struggled to clear their lines and get hold of the ball at all, the lads continued to fly forward, Devlin rallying the crowd and Roberts showing the pace and skill we had been expecting. And it was the loanee debutant who again made a huge impact whipping a cross into the corridor of uncertainty for Baka to head home with just 3 minutes remaining. One of my favourite things about this goal was the fact that the players allowed themselves only the briefest celebration before rushing back to our own half to get the game going again, craving the 3 points that they arguably deserved.
But it wasn’t to be. One opportunity at the death saw Devlin find some space after winning the ball on the right hand side, his cross unfortunately blocked by the tracking defender when it seemed Baka would have had the whole goal at his mercy had the pass got through.
Fair play to the lads. They showed all the grit and determination that we get reminded constantly by Whitney that they possess and I think Bradford should count their lucky stars they came away with a point: they barely deserved the lead to start with. An unbelievable second half performance and some great memories to take away from the Bescot, celebrating that equaliser was an absolute festival of limbs.