Opinion: Hail the Crawley defenders who set up victory at Bradford

When Crawley Town ended their poor run of results with a splendid 2-0 win at Valley Parade against Bradford City, it was a victory built on a superb defensive performance - and centre backs Jordan Tunnicliffe and Joe McNerney took the plaudits as they scored both the goals.

Joe McNerney was a hero at both ends of the Valley Parade pitch / Picture: Jamie Evans - UK Sports Images
Joe McNerney was a hero at both ends of the Valley Parade pitch / Picture: Jamie Evans - UK Sports Images

The win was not in accordance with the form book but it was fully deserved. The Reds’ back line took it in turns to influence the proceedings. McNerney was on top of his game (and the Bradford City attackers) from the outset before Tunnicliffe took centre stage heading the opening goal from Josh Wright’s pass. The busy Wright was the Reds’ main supply line and set up another three chances.

The improving Nick Tsaroulla was the next to shine marauding along the left flank in a way we haven’t seen since Dean Howell had that role. Archie Davies followed suit on the other side and his neat passing kept the Bantams penned back. Whenever the home side did create an opening they found Glenn Morris in imperious form, although he wouldn’t have stood a chance with a curling effort from Clayton Donaldson that hit the angle of post and bar.

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Further forward the match was more evenly contested and Crawley often found it difficult to create much from a fiercely disputed midfield. Sam Matthews showed plenty of vision but not the delivery that was needed. Jack Powell and James Tilley found it was hard to get into the game and once again Tom Nichols got through a lot of work in the middle of the park.

That left Ashley Nadesan alone up front, running as tirelessly as ever, but too often the long pass over the top that was intended for him lacked the precision he needed. As the Bantams strove to get back on level terms it was a battle royal in which the Reds simply refused to give ground and finally regained the upper hand. They were rewarded with a second goal that was superbly headed home by the indomitable McNerney from Powell’s pass.

The final score made the long journey and all the effort worthwhile and probably even made the managers smile after another match that was riddled by eccentric refereeing. It has happened all too rarely in this pressurised campaign but on this occasion Crawley Town got the result their play merited.