Collymore gem lifts Bradford

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Stan Collymore has driven most of his managers to distraction; yesterday he went some way to saving his latest employer from the sack.

Stan Collymore has driven most of his managers to distraction; yesterday he went some way to saving his latest employer from the sack.

Collymore and Benito Carbone are not the kind of players you would choose if your life depended on their performances but Chris Hutchings's managerial existence at Bradford does and after this gutsy draw in a rainstorm it will have been extended by a few weeks.

He laughed that he had not yet seen his chairman, Geoffrey Richmond, who had begun the week by telling Hutchings that he expected an "improvement in results with immediate effect".

The meeting, when it came, would have been easier than Hutchings might have expected, although Mark Viduka's short-range header 10 minutes from time ensured they would not be discussing Bradford's second Premiership victory of the season.

Collymore's future at Valley Parade is still as uncertain as his manager's since there have been false dawns before and autumn is a time for dead leaves, not turning over new ones.

In March he marked his debut for Leicester with a hat-trick against Sunderland, which was followed by pranks with fire extinguishers in La Manga, a broken leg and finally dressing-room confrontations which sparked his transfer on Thursday, despite apparent misgivings in both the dressing and the boardroom at Bradford.

His goal was pure theatre - a beautiful cross from Carbone that was met by an overhead kick that sent the ball into the corner of Paul Robinson's net.

Collymore may have been disoriented but it was strange he should run over to the Leeds fans to celebrate. It provoked a typical spasm of fury in the stand behind the goal and his actions are likely to be reported to the FA.

Collymore is still to face a hearing at Lancaster Gate after a stamping incident involving Paul Gascoigne, which marked his last, sorry game for Leicester City.

"I know he has shone on his debuts before," admitted Hutchings. "And it's important he does his talking on the pitch. He has moved up into the area which shows his commitment."

It may be that Bradford would suit Collymore more than the intense glare of Liverpool and Aston Villa; he confessed to being happiest of all in the backwaters of Southend but if he is in the Last Chance Saloon, he has stood his first round.

This was Bradford's seventh point in the Premiership and five have come against Chelsea, Arsenal and Leeds which tells its own story.

If Bradford are to survive, and their chairman believes they will need half a dozen more points than the 36 they managed last season, Carbone and Collymore will have to raise their game against the Premiership's ordinary sides.

Leeds are not ordinary; not even when they have a team ruined by injury.

"I am not a genius and my players are not rocket scientists," said the Leeds manager David O'Leary, with some understatement, when asked if the nine-point gap between Manchester United and Arsenal could be bridged. However, on sheer weight of chances, Leeds should have won.

In a first half played as the rain sluiced down on the mill city from dark, satanic skies, they twice had headers cleared off the line by Ian Nolan while O'Leary was convinced they should have had a penalty as Alan Smith was brought down in the 52nd minute.

When these teams last met, Bradford's goal was guarded by the portly frame of Neville Southall, forced into a comeback through a string of injuries. This time they had a harder task finding a way past Matt Clarke.

He began a performance that was to eclipse even Collymore's by tipping away a fierce, swirling shot from Lee Bowyer and then Ian Harte.

In the second half, with the penalty area a wetland, he turned away headers from Jonathan Woodgate, Danny Hay and a shot that cannoned from the shins of his own defender, David Wetherall.

The goal, when it came, gave him no chance.

Goals: Collymore 1-0 (21), Viduka 1-1 (80).

Bradford City (4-4-2): Clarke; Petrescu, Wetherall, Atherton, Nolan; Lawrence, McCall, Whalley, Beagrie (Sharpe, 90); Carbone (Saunders, 71), Collymore (Ward, 71). Substitutes not used: Grant, Davison (gk).

Leeds United (3-5-2): Robinson; Woodgate, Hay, Matteo; Kelly, Bakke, Dacourt, Bowyer (Burns, 62), Harte; Viduka, Smith. Substitutes not used: Jones, Milosovic (gk), Evans, Hackworth.

Referee: S Lodge (Barnsley).

Bookings: Bradford: Clarke, Lawrence. Leeds: Harte, Dacourt, Viduka, Bakke.

Man of the match: Clarke.

Attendance: 17,364.