Bradford City 0 PNE 0
Both sides had to settle for a point, having to play for 645 minutes with ten men apiece at Valley Parade.
Neil Kilkenny and Kyle Bennett were both shown straight red cards 25 minutes into the first half after appearing to trade raised arms against one another
North End went closest to winning it with Pul Gallagher and Josh Brownhill both hitting the post, but the had to settle for a second consecutive goalless draw.
Manager Simon Grayson made two changes to the side that drew 0-0 at Nottingham Forest four days before, Jack King returning in the middle of a back three and Scott Laird selected at left wing back.
The Lilywhites, decked in all white, started brightly and dominated much of the first half an hour in terms of possession and chances; Josh Brownhill’s seventh minute flick header fumbled wide by City keeper Jon McLaughlin; following a good spell and a strong shout for penalty for foul on Paul Gallagher by former PNE loan man Andrew Davies, who was returning to Phil Parkinson’s side for the first time in three months.
Shortly after Brownhill was again the man testing the keeper. Joe Garner headed the ball down to Gallagher, whose back heel found the onrushing Brownhill. He fired in a left footed low drive to McLaughlin’s left, but the stopper got down well to grab the ball.
The real talking point came on 25 minutes as Kilkenny appeared to receive a full punch from on loan Doncaster winger Kyle Bennett. Referee Stuart Attwell was quick to bring out the red card for the Bradford man, but as Kilkenny was further pushed and kicked by Bradford men whilst on the deck, he got up to himself see red from the match official.
This extra space almost helped North End two minutes later as Laird had time on the left to deliver a perfect cross to the back post where Paul Gallagher ghosted in only to fire against the post and behind for a corner from three yards out.
The home side only came to life after the two sendings off and skipper John Welsh made two fine blocks, the second of which denied another former PNE loanee, Nathan Doyle, whose shot from 15 yards out was deflected over the bar.
In the final minute of the opening period North End’s goalkeeper Declan Rudd, who up to that point had only needed to claim a few tame crosses, was brought into the action, making a brilliant one-handed save to deny home debutant Aaron McLean who at the back post met another Bradford new boy – Adam Reach’s cross, which was delivered with accuracy from the left.
The first minute of the second half was all North End as a corner was followed by an excellent run inside the Bradford full back by Scott Wiseman, who was only denied his first goal for the club by a last ditch tackle from Andrew Davies.
Up the other end Rudd needed to tip over Reach’s cross that drifted goalwards on the wind from the left hand side in what was an absolutely fierce and barnstorming pace.
Gallagher and Brownhill were both denied by McLaughlin with shots from outside the box, whilst up the other end Rudd denied McLean with his legs, all inside the opening five minutes of the half.
The extra space the pitch had without the man from each side was making for a very open game with neither side able to get a complete grip on possession.
With 20 minutes of the second half gone Brownhill was a lick of paint away from opening the scoring; Paul Gallagher made a driving run at the heart of the Bradgfords defence, before the ball fell to Brownhill who unleashed a vicious strike with the outside of his boot that came back out off the inside of the right hand upright with McLaughlin beaten.
With 13 minutes left Joe Garner got in behind the Bradford defence for the for first time, found by a clever ball from Paul Gallagher over the top, he controlled well and the net looked destined to be filled, but the left footed shot was just wide and into the North End crowd behind the goal.
Two minutes later John Welsh was upended 20 yards out in a slight left hand side of the ‘D’ by Gary Jones, the home side’s skipper, Paul Gallagher had two bites at the shot, but the Bantams wall did its job on both occasions.
North End had the ball in the net with seven minutes left through Garner, latching onto Welsh’s flick from Gallagher’s cross, but the linesman’s flag was straight up for offside against the No.14.
Four minutes were added on by the match official at the end of the game, but neither side could break the deadlock and had to be happy with a share of the points.
: McLaughlin, Darby, A Davies, Hanson, Jones, McLean (McBurnie, 72), Bates, McArdle, Doyle (Ravenhill, 81), Reach, Bennett. Subs not used: Jameson, Gray, Thompson, McHugh, Atkinson.Bradford City line-up
: Rudd, Wiseman (Humphrey, 72), Laird, Kilkenny, King, Wright, Clarke, Welsh, Gallagher, Garner, Brownhill (Keane, 90). Subs not used: Stuckmann, Beavon, Holmes, Buchanan, Hume.PNE line-up
: 13,686 (1,114 away fans)Attendance
: Mr S AttwellReferee