Football: Bradford boosted by Beagrie's late penalty

Bradford City 2 Crystal Palace 1
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The Independent Online
BRADFORD CITY have mounted an impressive promotion challenge in recent weeks and Paul Jewell's side showed last night that they also have the invaluable knack of taking points from below-par performances. Two goals in the last quarter of an hour at Valley Parade took Bradford's points tally to 22 out of a possible 24 and denied Crystal Palace any reward after they had dominated long periods of the game.

Palace, responding well to Steve Coppell's management following the removal of Terry Venables last week, took the lead early in the second half and had rarely looked in trouble until Ashley Westwood rose to head home Gareth Whalley's corner from the left after 75 minutes. It was his first goal since joining Bradford from Crewe Alexandra last summer.

Bradford piled on the pressure for the rest of the game and Palace finally succumbed three minutes from time when Isaiah Rankin went down under Kevin Miller's challenge in the penalty area. Palace protested vehemently that there had been no contact between their goalkeeper and the Bradford substitute, but a penalty was given and Peter Beagrie stepped up to score the winning goal and strengthen Bradford's second place in the First Division table. To add to Palace's woe they had Sun Jihai sent off in the closing minutes for a second bookable offence.

It was rough justice on Palace, who had adapted better to the difficult conditions and had the chances to put this game beyond Bradford's reach. The pitch was a mud-heap and could not have been in much better shape than it was in October, when the original fixture between these sides was abandoned at half-time.

Lee Bradbury led the Palace line well and the London side had the best two chances of the first half. Bradbury shot narrowly over the bar after a sharp turn in the box and Simon Rodger missed the far post by a similar margin when he ran on to the former Manchester City forward's through ball.

When Palace made the breakthrough 11 minutes after the interval, however, it came from an unlikely source. David Tuttle was left unmarked after Bradford failed to clear Rodger's corner from the left and shot home from six yards. In the next 15 minutes, Palace created a succession of openings, but Gary Walsh made some fine saves and both Bradbury and Clinton Morrison might have done better with clear-cut chances.

Bradford's spirit, however, is unquenchable at the moment and their perseverance brought its reward.

Bradford City (4-4-2): Walsh; Wright (Rankin, 66), D Moore, Westwood, Jacobs; Lawrence, McCall, Whalley, Beagrie; Mills, Blake. Substitutes not used: O'Brien, Ramage.

Crystal Palace (4-4-2): Miller; Burton (McKenzie, 88), Tuttle, C Moore, Sun Jihai; Fan Zhiyi, Foster, Fullarton, Rodger; Morrison, Bradbury, Substitutes not used: Rizzo, Austin.

Referee: B Burns (Scarborough).