Thursday 21 September 2017

Stead stacks up another big scalp for the Bantams

Bradford City 2 Sunderland 0

Jon Stead celebrates with teammates after scoring Bradford City's second goal in their FA Cup fifth-round clash with Sunderland at Valley Parade. Photo: REUTERS/Phil Noble
Jon Stead celebrates with teammates after scoring Bradford City's second goal in their FA Cup fifth-round clash with Sunderland at Valley Parade. Photo: REUTERS/Phil Noble
Billy Clarke hits his shot before seeing it deflect into the net off Sunderland defender John O'Shea to give Bradford City the lead in their FA Cup fifth-round clash at Valley Parade. Photo: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Bradford City's Stephen Darby attempts to control the ball under pressure from Sunderland midfielder Ricardo Alvarez during their FA Cup fifth-round clash at Valley Parade. Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Bradford City's Billy Clarke battles for the ball under with Sunderland trio Liam Bridcutt, Sebastian Larsson and Wes Brown during their FA Cup fifth-round clash at Valley Parade. Photo: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Bradford City defender Rory McArdle looks to track Sunderland's Steven Fletcher during their FA Cup fifth-round clash at Valley Parade. Photo: OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images
Jon Stead strikes past Sunderland goalkeeper Vito Mannone to net Bradford City's second goal in their FA Cup fifth-round clash at Valley Parade. Photo: OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images

Mark Ogden

Jon Stead endured such a miserable 18 months at Sunderland earlier in his career that supporters printed tee-shirts claiming "I saw Jon Stead score a goal" to mock the forward's woeful strike rate on Wearside.

They can now print "I saw Jon Stead knock Sunderland out of the Cup" tops, however, after Bradford's on-loan striker sealed the League One club's first passage to the quarter-finals since 1976 at the expense of Gus Poyet's team, who were booed off Valley Parade by 4,000 angry visiting supporters.

Poyet, who complained about the Sunderland fans' desire for more attractive football last month, was subjected to chants of "It's always our fault" by the club's supporters after Stead's goal confirmed their humiliation.

Stead waited 30 games before scoring his first goal for Sunderland after a £1.8m transfer from Blackburn in 2005, so his decisive strike will have been a cathartic one.

Having stunned Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in the fourth round, it is just a shame that television viewers were denied the opportunity to watch the Bantams claim another Premier League scalp - the Bradford fans chanted "Are you watching BBC?"

On many occasions, a sporting battle can be won or lost before the contest has even begun and Bradford certainly went into this tie with the psychological edge thanks to Poyet's pre-match grumbles about the state of the muddy Valley Parade pitch.

Whether the pitch was good or bad, Poyet's complaints sent out the message that Sunderland were worried and perhaps not as focused on this game as they should be.

And so it proved. Bradford, backed by Valley Parade's biggest attendance - 24,021 - for half a century, carried the raucous atmosphere of the crowd on to the pitch by making life as uncomfortable as possible for their top-flight opponents.

Every tackle by Phil Parkinson's players was forceful, some strayed dangerously close to crossing the line of the law, but they were getting in Sunderland's faces.

As such, it did not require John O'Shea's third-minute own goal to unnerve Poyet's team.

It was nonetheless a poor goal for Sunderland to concede after Wes Brown had conceded a free-kick on the near touchline for a foul on Stead.

Sunderland failed to deal with the free-kick delivered by Filipe Morais and Brown's attempted clearance fell to Billy Clarke at the far post, with the midfielder's left-foot strike beating Vito Mannone via O'Shea's heavy deflection.

Bradford now had something to hold on to and Rory McArdle's thundering challenge on Danny Graham four minutes later emphasised their desire to stand firm.

The ball was there to be won but the former Rochdale centre-half also left his mark on Graham, who had to leave the field for stitches to a head wound.

Incensed by the challenge, Poyet and his assistants Charlie Oatway and Mauricio Taricco clashed with Parkinson and the Bradford assistant Steve Parkin in the technical area. It was another example of how his team had been psyched out by their League One opponents.

Bradford continued to tackle hard and test Sunderland on the break and Stead almost made it 2-0 when he flashed a near-post header wide on 15 minutes.

Fightback

Sunderland fought back and Adam Johnson's effort was blocked by McArdle moments before the defender dispossessed Steven Fletcher six yards out after the forward had sprung the offside trap for a clear effort on goal.

The tackle epitomised Bradford's resolve, showing their success in defeating Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in the fourth round was clearly no fluke.

Although Sunderland mounted an early second-half fightback, pounding the Bradford goalkeeper Ben Williams with a series of high balls and testing crosses, the home side stayed strong.

Sunderland's onslaught lasted 15 minutes before Stead doubled Bradford's lead following Johnson's mis-clearance, which dropped to James Hanson on the edge of the penalty area.

The centre-forward, who famously left his job as a Co-op shelf stacker to play for Bradford, spotted his strike partner on the penalty spot and laid the ball off for Stead to score the conclusive goal.

In response, some Sunderland fans headed for the exit, half an hour before their team's ignominious defeat was confirmed. Better teams than Sunderland have lost cup ties against Parkinson's committed side, but few will have performed as miserably as this. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport