Bradford City 5 Barnsley 1: Bantams smash Reds hoodoo on a night when visitors' defence are torn apart

Valley Parade, home of Bradford City AFC. Picture: Tony Johnson.
Valley Parade, home of Bradford City AFC. Picture: Tony Johnson.

That record was completely obliterated by a pumped-up, intense City side intent upon making amends - and it was nothing to do with the presence of the Reds in town either.

The Bantams have been doing it tough, it’s fair to say.

It may have only been a Bristol Street Motors Trophy group meeting between those White Rose sides who had already both qualified for the knock-out stages, but you take what you can get when times are hard.

After an embarrassing first half showing in front of the TV cameras at Notts County the weekend, Graham Alexander - speaking straight after the match - spoke of his gratitude at his side having a game just three days on to aim to get things out of their system.

An improved second period at Notts provided an inkling of hope, but City truly did something about it to book a home tie in the last 32 with a discernible swagger with five goals.

Three arrived in the first period from Matty Platt, Andy Cook, who found the net on home soil for the first time since the end of September alongside a beauty from Tyler Smith, who followed up his treble in the previous group game with Manchester City under-21s.

Tyler Richards helped himself to his first goal for the club on the resumption before ex-Reds player and ‘Great Escape’ hero Clarke Oduor, who made his first appearance for the club under Alexander, crowned a strong performance with the hosts’ fifth midway through the second half.

A fierce drive from substitute Barry Cotter - a fine effort not in helping with the visitors poor performance - provided scant consolation for the 604 visiting supporters.

It was a night when Cook and his Barnsley counterpart Sam Cosgrove each had their own agendas.

Cook’s powerhouse showing - and welcome goal - ensured a good night’s work for the City talisman, while Cosgrove’s wait for a first Reds goal continued and a welcome first win under the watch of Alexander.

Gloss for City was provided by the sight of fit-again Vadaine Oliver making his first appearance for the club since April 10 - after recovering from a knee operation.

City fielded six of the starters who lined up from the off at Meadow Lane on Saturday. One of those who was restored to the side in Harry Chapman helped get things rolling.

He announced himself early on in a half which showcased the hosts in a very positive light - less so, Barnsley’s rearguard.

Chapman sent over a peach of a cross from the right which was headed in powerfully and confidently by Platt, part of a back five featuring Ash Taylor and Ciaran Kelly, with just two minutes on the clock.

It was enough to unnerve Barnsley’s defence for the rest of the half and more especially Shepherd, who had a torrid opening half.

Just four players started the Reds’ FA Cup stroll at Horsham seven days earlier, with Vimal Yoganathan handed a vote of faith following his impressive cameo in West Sussex by way of a first full start.

Youngster Charlie Hickingbottom was handed his debut, alongside midfielder Aaron Atkinson, who joined the club from Oldham Athletic last month following a successful trial.

For sure, it was a second-string side. Yet the extent of their troubles in a defensive sense in particular were alarming.

Cook, who endured dismay after spurning several chances in midweek, took out his frustration among the Reds’ flaky backline, who were bullied by him for spells.

His colleagues in claret and amber took the hint and set about Barnsley.

Soon it was 2-0, with Odour slotting in Cook, whose finish was crisp and unerring.

It did not get any better for the visitors, led by fit-again Luca Connell and also including senior players in Ben Killip, Conor McCarthy and Cosgrove, alongside wing-backs Corey O’Keefe and Owen Dodgson.

A measure of the exasperation of Collins, a solid centre-back in his playing days, arrived late in the half when he remonstrated furiously with Shepherd.

His mood was not improved soon after when the young defender was tied in knots by Smith, who lashed a rising drive past Killip from a tight angle on 35 minutes.

Odour went close to a fourth before the break or else Barnsley would have been looking at a four-goal interval deficit just as City were three days earlier. A decent-sized Reds following in the Midland Road expressed a few understandable moans all the same.

Barnsley did show a bit more about them in the second period, maybe helped along by some choice words from their manager.

Their fitful defending would continue.

Oduor fed Cook and after his dink was blocked by the onrushing Killip, the loose ball was thumped home from distance by Richards.

Soon after, a lovely move saw Richie Smallwood slot in Brad Halliday, whose cutback was turned in by Oduor, with home players queuing up to finish.

Cotter pulled one back. But it was emphatically City’s evening.

Shepherd’s torrid night was compounded when he was dismissed in stoppage-time for pulling back Smith.