Bradford rebound

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The Independent Online

Bradford Survived a torrid first half to strike back with two goals that could be of immense value at the end of the season. Dean Saunders and David Wetherall converted two of City's relatively few chances for possibly their most important victory in the Premiership so far, but Newcastle will wonder what happened to their early stranglehold on this game.

Bradford Survived a torrid first half to strike back with two goals that could be of immense value at the end of the season. Dean Saunders and David Wetherall converted two of City's relatively few chances for possibly their most important victory in the Premiership so far, but Newcastle will wonder what happened to their early stranglehold on this game.

Bradford, hovering above the bottom three, knew that if they are to close the gap on some of the sides immediately above them, Newcastle at home had to be one of their targets.

The Bantams started with two recent regulars, Peter Beagrie and Robbie Blake, on the bench, with Lee Sharpe and Dean Saunders preferred.

Newcastle's manager, Bobby Robson, had the rare luxury of having all his first-choice strikers fit and available; his starting line-up featured Alan Shear- er, Duncan Ferguson and Kevin Gallacher. Yet another striker, Temuri Ketsbaia, started on the bench alongside Kieron Dyer.

Both sides had the glimmer of an early chance, with Andy Myers only succeeding in heading down Gallacher's cross to Ferguson, who volleyed over the bar, and Stuart McCall getting free on the byline but pulling his shot across the face of goal.

Another nod-down by Ferguson gave Gallacher the shooting opportunity, but his extravagant attempt to chip Matthew Clarke soared high over the bar. Clarke was given more trouble by a swerving free- kick from Nolberto Solano.

Newcastle then came within inches of taking the lead in the 20th minute, Ferguson leaping to meet Solano's corner and slamming his header against the bar. Yet another ball won in the air by Ferguson, this time from Steve Harper's kick-out, set up a chance for Shearer, who shot wide of the post on the turn.

Bradford's biggest scare came when Newcastle's Portuguese defender Helder ran through and demanded a good save from Clarke at close range.

Bradford did not force their first corner until the start of the second half, when Alessandro Pistone had to clear Myers' cross for Lee Mills. Further evidence of slight jitters in the Newcastle defence came when Saunders went down in the area under Pistone's challenge, triggering fervent appeals for a penalty.

Ten minutes after the break, Bradford completed their recovery from their first-half battering. Mills chased a long ball out of defence and pulled it back from the byline for Saunders to hammer it into the roof of the net. Newcastle had been punished for failing to take advantage of their earlier domination.

Bradford's second came 15 minutes later, Wetherall rising on the far post to head home Lee Sharpe's free-kick. Even after that, Shearer laid on a couple of chances for Ferguson, which were wasted. It was a timely reminder of how they had come to lose this match.

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