Sunderland drew 1 -1 with Bradford City at the SOL on Tuesday night to top their group in the Papa John’s trophy. Lee Johnson’s side fell behind in the first half when Theo Robinson gave the visitors a deserved lead, but Sunderland took a share of the spoils thanks to Nathan Broadheads superb second half strike. At full time there was the most pointless penalty shoot-out of all time to determine who got an extra point and the visitors won this 4-2.
As expected for the dead rubber game Lee Johnson made a host of changes with some enforced with players away on international duty. Thorben Hoffman returned in goal behind a back four of Richardson, Alves, Younger and Gooch. The five-man midfield looking to supply lone forward Nathan Broadhead was Dajaku, O’Nien, Pritchard, Sohna and Embleton.
After the sounding of the last post and a minute’s silence for the Remembrance celebrations Bradford got the game underway kicking toward the North Stand. The first action of the game saw Luke O’Nien pick up a yellow card for a bad foul. The first effort from Sunderland came a couple of minutes later when O’Nien fed the ball to Embleton but his shot from 25 yards took a deflection and the keeper saved it after being slightly wrongfooted.
At the other end Bradford threatened down the left forcing Alves to concede a corner. Sunderland cleared the set piece as far as Gareth Evans on the left flank who put in a decent delivery to the box for Charles Vernam. Hoffman was able to hold Vernam’s header relatively comfortably although he did whack into the post for his troubles.
A few minutes later the visitors forced another corner when Evans’ cross was deflected behind by Richardson. Ollie Younger cleared the cross at first, but Bradford kept the pressure on Sunderland with Hoffman forced into a decent stop to save Fiacre Kelleher’s well struck left footed shot from just inside the box.
It was the visitors who looked the most threatening side and almost fashioned a good chance 10 minutes before the break but Vernam’s ball behind Sunderland’s defence towards Robinson was slightly overhit. Bradford kept the move alive though and eventually forced Lynden Gooch into conceding a corner which they took the lead from.
The lads only half cleared the corner as far as Staunton on the left-hand side who skinned Sohna before driving into the box. He then delivered a low cross which Robinson stabbed into the top right-hand corner of the net after getting ahead of Luke O’Nien in the six-yard box. A couple of minutes later Hoffman had to save from Vernam to prevent the visitors doubling their lead.
Sunderland’s best chance of the half came two minutes before the break when Luke O’Nien played the ball into Dajaku in the box. He took a touch and beat his man, but his shot lacked power and was a good height for the keeper who parried it away. Alex Pritchard was the second Sunderland player to go into the book for a foul before the fourth official signalled two minutes additional time.
We had a half chance after Gooch put a decent cross into the back post, but Richardson couldn’t direct it on target on the stretch meaning Sunderland went in behind to boos from the fans. Bradford made a change at the break with Elliot Watt replacing Lee Angol before Sunderland restarted the game.
The visitors had the first effort of the second half with goal scorer Theo Robinson trying an audacious shot from 40 yards which went wide of Hoffman’s left-hand post. At the other end Luke O’Nien tried an equally ridiculous effort with his weaker left foot which sailed over the bar.
Sunderland equalised after 52 minutes when Nathan Broadhead latched onto Elliot Embleton’s inch perfect ball forward. Broadhead controlled the ball expertly before blasting the ball past the keeper into the bottom left-hand corner from just inside the box.
It tuned out to be Broadhead’s last piece of action as he was substituted soon after by Lee Johnson and replaced by Will Harris. Harris had a chance after 60 minutes when Pritchard played a ball to the by line for Lynden Gooch. Gooch beat the offside trap before crossing low with his left foot towards Harris who poked the ball wide.
Sunderland went close to taking the lead after 67 minutes after Alex Pritchard beat his man before crossing into the box. Elliot Embleton came onto it with his left foot, but it was deflected wide for a corner which Bradford cleared. Sunderland should have taken the lead a minute later, but a combination of poor finishing and good defending prevented this.
Leon Dajaku was found in acres of space in the box but his clipped shot towards the corner was tipped clear by the keeper. It fell perfectly for Will Harris who had an open goal, but Reece Staunton recovered brilliantly to hook Harris’ header off the line.
Lee Johnson then made a double change with Elliot Embleton and Harrison Sohna replaced by Ellis Taylor and Carl Winchester. Five minutes before full time Bradford had a good opportunity to win the game when Threlkeld found Gilliead in the centre of the box 12 yards from goal. Fortunately for Sunderland he snatched at the shot and blazed high and wide over the bar.
At the other end we almost won the game when we were awarded a free kick right on the edge of the box in a really dangerous position when Pritchard was fouled. Pritchard got up to take the free kick and was unlucky to see his powerful shot crash back off the cross bar and away to safety.
There was four minutes added time and Bradford had a chance at the death to win it but Hoffman did well to save from Cooke. The game then went to the most pointless penalty shootout ever to see who got an extra point with the visitors winning 4-2 after Alex Pritchard and Lynden Gooch missed for Sunderland.
Final Score: Sunderland 1 Bradford City 1
ALS Man of the Match: Nathan Broadhead