Football: Beagrie spots his late chance

Bradford City 1 Beagrie pen 89 Sheffield Wednesday 1 Dreyer og 39 Half-time: 0-1 Attendance: 18,276
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The Independent Online
A LAST-MINUTE penalty earned and scored by their captain, Peter Beagrie, will not blind Bradford to the daunting task that lies ahead in the Premiership. Although their late equaliser put an optimistic gloss on the first afternoon of top-flight football at Valley Parade since they were relegated along with Manchester United - whatever happened to them? - in 1922, City suffered for much of the match from stage fright.

Sheffield Wednesday, so soundly beaten in their first two outings, might only have led through an own-goal, but they should have been out of sight and would have been if they had responded more positively to the promptings of Benito Carbone.

"We didn't play fantastic, but we kept knocking on the door," said Bradford's manager, Paul Jewell. "Overall I thought we deserved at least a draw, but when it gets so late you think it's not going to come."

It says much about City's overawed first-half performance, though, that John Dreyer's lob over Gary Walsh, as he chased Andy Hinchcliffe's long ball with Gilles de Bilde, was their first attempt on either goal. Wayne Jacobs also came close to stabbing the ball past his own goalkeeper before half-time; it was that sort of half.

By contrast Carbone, in his first start of the season, put one fierce shot just wide, had another tipped over the bar and set up a glorious chance for Niclas Alexandersson, who was thwarted by Walsh's block.

The best that could be said for Bradford was that they were more penetrative after the break. Gareth Whalley hit one powerful shot just past the post and Dreyer had a chance to redeem himself when Whalley's corner found him unmarked in front of goal. But his header deflected wide off Des Walker, a strong presence at the heart of a Wednesday defence that looked more than equal to what was being asked of it.

That was until the final minute of normal time when Beagrie and the Wednesday substitute Simon Donnelly, brought on for the last 10 minutes, were both pursuing the ball away from goal.

Out went Donnelly's leg, over went Beagrie and referee Dermot Gallagher pointed immediately to the spot. An accurate kick, the inevitable somersault and suddenly all was well.

"It was a definite penalty," said Beagrie, "either for pulling my shirt or for bringing me down." Not so convinced was Walker who, the City captain said, had refused to shake hands with him afterwards. Beagrie added: "If anyone had said we could have four points from our first two matches, we would have settled for that without a shadow of a doubt."