A dramatic finish to an entertaining Capital One Cup derby game saw Bradford City progress in what could be the final game of David Hockaday’s short reign as Leeds United manager.
James Hanson dramatically completed a three minute turnaround with a brave header from a Gary Liddle cross just moments after it had appeared a ten man Leeds side had snatched victory at Valley Parade.
Matt Smith broke the deadlock in the 82nd minute of a fast and ferocious match when against the run of play the giant striker leapt highest in the six yard box to turn home a teasing ball from David Norris.
From the restart, City pushed for an equaliser and after it had appeared the visitors had cleared there lines, Billy Knott tuck the ball and fired into Stuart Taylor’s top right corner from distance to bring the stadium back to life before Hanson’s winner.
Phil Parkinson, the Bradford City manager, dedicated the victory to the supporters, saying: “Without a doubt this is a big moment, we knew what this meant to the people of Bradford tonight and we said that to the lads before we went out there. The fans have gone away tonight knowing we did everything to make that happen for them.”
The story of the first half was the dismissal of Leeds midfielder Luke Murphy. The former Crewe man was lucky to only see yellow for the first offence after a reckless challenge on Jason Kennedy in the opposition midfield.
Murphy seemed to have a rush of a blood for his second bookable offence when he raced in and came through James Meredith late with a raised foot which made contact with the left back’s trailing leg.
Chances were mainly those of the whites in the first half when following Smith’s header over, Alan Sheehan’s last ditch tackle halting Billy Sharp’s turn to shoot for the opener. Stephen Warnock also found himself one on one with Ben Williams but could only put the effort past the far post.
Bradford, the 2013 finalists in the competition, also had their own share of the chances to break the deadlock but McLean’s flick on found the hands of Stuart Taylor before Kennedy could only find the side netting from a tight angle.
After a tense opening to the second half in which Leeds were very resolute which frustrated the opposition, Sharp and Parkinson were both lucky not to see red following an altercation between the former and defender Rory McArdle.
After a battle for the ball, the striker appeared to only have eyes for his marker and after the pair kicked out, Leeds summer arrival appeared to headbutt McArdle on the deck. Parkinson raced out of his technical area and grabbed Sharp by the throat only for the fourth official to defuse the any hostility.
Taylor in the Leeds goal was to thank for getting the sides scoreless heading into the closing moments after a beautiful one handed save from Billy Clarke with twenty five minutes remaining.
But, the headlines belonged to the Bantams after the sensational period of three goals in five minutes which leaves Hockaday’s chances of remaining on as head coach on the thinnest of ice.
Following the game, the former Forest Green manager said: “I’m not a quitter, I’m a fighter. I feel as though not just myself, but the team at the moment, things just aren’t going our way.”
“But now we have to look at Saturday. They’ll be in tomorrow, I’ll be in tomorrow and it’s on to the next game again. It’s a tough game at times but we’ve got to pick ourselves up. Nobody here is going to feel sorry for us.”
Unfortunately, things would only get worse for the man in the hottest of hotseats when after a four minute delay for crowd disturbances, substitute Dominic Poleon could only sensationally put a chance in injury time to equalise wide when it seemed easier to score.
The third round draw following the game presented the Bantams with an intriguing away tie at fellow League One side MK Dons, who progressed after a sensational 4-0 home victory over Manchester United on the Tuesday night.
CITY: Williams; Darby, McArdle, Sheehan, Meredith; Liddle, Kennedy, Knott (Dolan 90+7), Clarke; McLean (McBurnie 70), Hanson. Subs Not Used: Urwin, Yeates, Shariff, Routis, Morais.
LEEDS: S Taylor; Wootton, Cooper, Pearce, Warnock; Norris (Poleon 90), Tonge, Murphy, Bianchi; Sharp, Smith. Subs Not Used: Silvestri, Ajose, C Taylor, Cook, Bendicic, Antenucci.