Bradford shock Sunderland

Date published: Monday 24th August 2015 1:23

Bradford shock Sunderland

After winning 4-2 at Premier League leaders Chelsea in the previous round, Phil Parkinson’s League One side took a shock lead in the third minute of Sunday’s fifth-round tie when a free-kick bounced to Billy Clarke inside the penalty area and his wayward shot cannoned off John O’Shea and into the net.
They doubled their advantage in the 61st minute when Jon Stead continued his record of scoring in every round of this season’s competition by firing low under the body of Vito Mannone.
Sunderland manager Gus Poyet had complained about the state of the pitch ahead of the game, but will be more concerned with the poor performance of his players as Bradford clung on to confirm their spot in the quarter-final draw for the first time in 39 years.
A sell-out crowd of more than 24,000 was in attendance and the Sunderland fans among them might have feared the worst when they arrived at the ground to discover January signing Jermain Defoe had been left out of the matchday squad.
And the home side made the breakthrough with just three minutes on the clock. A free-kick from Filipe Morais was only half-cleared to Clarke, whose lashed effort was deflected by hapless Sunderland captain O’Shea into the net for an own goal.
Bradford were simply rampant in the early stages. Clarke had already dug a shot wide before he sent in his effort for the opener, and James Hanson went agonisingly close to connecting with a Stead flick-on to make it 2-0 with barely a quarter of an hour played.
Adam Johnson brought the first save out of Bradford keeper Ben Williams and then Steven Fletcher inexplicably hesitated with the goal at his mercy, allowing Rory McArdle to get back with a brilliant tackle to preserve the home side’s lead.
Sebastian Larsson had a shot deflected narrowly over the bar in the 21st minute but the danger was mostly coming from Bradford, their sweeping counter-attacks making the Premier League stars look sluggish and clueless.
Clarke brushed aside Johnson and Billy Jones to bring a save out of Mannone, then Hanson again went inches away from connecting with a Morais cross as the home side ended the first half well on top.
Any home fears the break could work in favour of shell-shocked Sunderland proved unfounded as the end-to-end action continued to swing mostly in Bradford’s favour in the early stages of the second half.
And it was no real surprise when Stead maintained his remarkable record of scoring in every round of this season’s competition as he squeezed an effort under Mannone after being gifted his chance following a mistake by Johnson.
The home side played out the final half-hour of the game with the minimum of fuss, to the extent that by the time referee Kevin Friend blew the final whistle, the home fans had already started celebrating booking their place in Monday’s quarter-final draw.

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