Bolton Wanderers 2
IT WAS an Icelandic two-step for Bolton at Bradford, with Arnar Gunnlaugsson twice responsible for giving them the lead only for his compatriot at the back to be implicated in giving it away.
Gunnlaugsson scored one goal and made another in a display that suggested he has found his ideal role in English football, freelancing behind the front two and causing all manner of trouble.
But Gudni Bergsson was twice at fault for equalisers that deprived Bolton and Gunnlaugsson of what they deserved against a Bradford side that went on the most ambitious spending spree in its history over the summer.
The goalmouth at a sodden Valley Parade were fenced off during the pre- match kick-about. For 19 minutes it looked as though that cordon might just as well have been left in place, but then Gunnlaugsson claimed a delightful second goal of the season to add to his equaliser at Crystal Palace on the opening day.
Neil Cox, one of a number of Premiership signings who missed much of last season's doomed campaign, put the ball into the middle, Dean Holdsworth's dummy inducing a moment's hesitation and Gunnlaugsson nipping between the two central defenders to guide home a shot with his weaker right foot.
Bradford grabbed their first equaliser, through one of their close-season captures. Isaiah Rankin was a prolific scorer in Arsenal's reserves and naturally gets tagged as a poor man's Ian Wright.
He showed the right sort of pace to embarrass the defence but only timed his run well enough to beat the off-side trap when he gave Bergsson a couple of yards start and surged past him to tuck the ball into the net. But Bolton took control when Gunnlaugsson, again free on the left, put over the most inviting of crosses, and it was met by an equally good downward header from Nathan Blake.
Bolton's self-assurance moved up another notch and with some football of Premiership quality, but Bradford got their reward and their first points of the season by sticking at their task. Two corners put pressure on Bolton in the dying minutes, and from the second, flighted in by Peter Beagrie, their other expensive new forward Lee Mills got away from Bergsson to head his first goal since his pounds 1m transfer from Port Vale.
"There's a bit of a weight on your shoulders when you're a big signing at this club," Mills admitted. "The ball and chain's off my leg now. But Bolton are great on the ball, the way they knock it about."
Sometimes, in the First Division as well as the Premiership, that isn't enough. That was certainly the view of the Bolton manager, Colin Todd, when he emerged from the changing rooms.
"We've had a chat for 10 minutes about defending and the times we concede goals. He said: "If we're going to make progress in this division we're going to have to play a lot better than we've done today in most departments."
Bradford City (4-4-2): Walsh; Lawrence, Moore, O'Brien, Dreyer; Beagrie, Bolland (Jacobs, 71), Whalley, Grant (Westwood, 65); Mills, Rankin. Substitutes not used: Edinho.
Bolton Wanderers (3-5-2): Jaaskelainen; Todd, Bergsson, Fish; Cox, Jensen, Frandsen, Gunnlaugsson, Phillips; Blake, Holdworth. Substitutes not used: Whitlow, Gudjohnson, Gardner.
Referee: T Heilbron (Newton Aycliffe).
Bookings: Bolton: Frandsen.
Man of the match: Gunnlaugsson.
Attendance: 13,163.Reuse content