Nationwide Division One, 09/03/04, 7.45pm
By Matt Rowson
Hold on... we've been here before, haven't we?
One week on, and more has changed than one might expect. For ourselves, an abrupt end to our winning run amidst shoddy defending at Stoke. Perhaps more significantly, injuries to both Neil Cox and Jack Smith... the latter the result of a repulsive challenge by Darel Russell that the referee inexplicably deemed worthy only of a caution. Oh, and we've signed a player as well, for money of all things, who now seems set to be brought in a bit earlier than might have been ideal.
Bradford meanwhile have, as widely advertised, "slipped" back into administration. I'm not sure why it always has to be "slipped", by the way, rarely has a verb seemed more inappropriate. Slipped implies something accidental, inconspicuous, perhaps even graceful. "Clattered" would seem a more appropriate general bet, with no particular relevance to Bradford intended. Anyway, the club is technically up for sale although the Rhodes family are expected to continue to fund and now run the show... in the meantime, City's players have accepted a fifty percent wage deferral.
On the pitch, City have chalked up another win at Rotherham United. Nico Vaesen has recovered from the injury that threatened his involvement last week, and Alan Combe seems to have reappeared on the bench as well although I can't quite work out what happened to the extra two match ban that the FA hearing awarded him. Andy Gray went to Sheffield United as expected, but Warnock appears to have come back for more with Simon Francis next on his shopping list. Expect Peter Atherton to drop back to right back with Paul Evans moving into the middle and Summerbee on the right, should this happen before Tuesday. Jason Gavin is due to start a four match ban but not until next weekend... he should be available in an increasingly steady looking defensive line. City have problems up front, however, with Alun Armstrong still not fit and others, including Cadamarteri, carrying knocks.
Results could have gone worse for us last weekend, but the traditional result at Valley Parade would see us slipping back into the realms of front-line relegation candidates again when for a week or two it seemed that this might be behind us. I still think we're better than that, and a first ever win at Bradford would re-stoke some post-Stoke belief...