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Football: McCall's late strike keeps Bantams upright

Bradford City 1 Tottenham Hotspur 1
SO MANY obituaries were being written about Bradford City they ought to incorporate black into their kit. Going down? It has been anticipated ever since they went up, the whole 1999-2000 season an exercise in damage limitation.

Even their manager, Paul Jewell, seemed concerned that the locals were giving up on the Bantams in the heavyweight league and in the programme urged supporters to keep the faith. "We must stick together as a group," he wrote, "and if we do I think we will be all right." In those terms, yesterday's injury- time goal from Stuart McCall was invaluable.

If Bradford had fallen to their fourth consecutive defeat without scoring the pool of optimism in West Yorkshire would have dribbled away to Sheffield Wednesday levels. Instead they scraped a draw and although the point did not drag them away from the bottom three it at least put them level with Coventry, the team clinging to the last place of safety.

If Bradford want encouragement in defeating what appears inevitable then they could draw encouragement from yesterday's match. From the moment Tottenham earned four corners in the opening three minutes it appeared the visitors were destined for three points and a month's worth of goals.

Chris Perry headed just over, Gary Walsh saved from Les Ferdinand and Oyvind Leonhardsen blazed over. "They say teams don't get out of their own half but we didn't get out of our box," Jewell said.

The chief reason was Walsh, a goalkeeper who would have been Peter Schmeichel's successor at Manchester United if he had lived up to Sir Alex Ferguson's early estimation, who, nevertheless, performed heroically yesterday.

His best save arrived after 24 minutes when David Ginola teased Andrew O'Brien and David Wetherall with a silky run along the edge of the area. A feint to the right, a touch to left and he gave himself space and the Frenchman's shot was arcing into the top corner when the Bradford goalkeeper sprang to his right to flick it round the post.

His form extended to the second half, which began with Walsh tipping Mauricio Taricco's shot over and then swooping low to deny Leonhardsen's shot across him into the far corner. Bradford were hanging on, Tottenham getting increasingly frustrated.

Just when it seemed that the Londoners were going to have a totally frustrating day, however, after Perry hit the post in the 65th minute, they took the lead three minutes later. Ginola swung over a corner from the left and Perry, as always rising higher than his 5ft 8in ought to allow, thumped a header past Walsh.

As Bradford had scored only twice before, the result seemed a formality but to give Bradford their due they attacked in a manner that had been beyond them at 0-0. After 88 minutes Wetherall rose above the Spurs rearguard only to have his header cleared off the line by Stephen Carr, yet rather than despair at their luck they tried the same trick at another corner three minutes into stoppage time and this time it came off.

Wetherall again was first to the ball and although the contact did not have the same power it bounced nicely for McCall who stooped to head it past a thicket of players on the line.

"We're just not finishing teams off," George Graham, the Spurs manager, said. "We had loads of play, created loads of exciting football but we had 22 efforts at goal and only eight were on target. That speaks volumes."

Goals: Perry (67) 0-1; McCall (90) 1-1.

Bradford City (4-4-2): Walsh; Halle, Wetherall, O'Brien, Jacobs (Myers, 65); Windass (Blake, h-t), Whalley, McCall, Beagrie; Knowles, Saunders (Rodriguez, 77). Substitutes not used: Redfearn, Clarke (gk).

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Walker; Carr, Perry, Young, Taricco; Leonhardsen, Freund, Sherwood, Ginola (Nielsen, 90); Ferdinand (Armstrong, 71), Iversen. Substitutes not used: Fox, King, Baardsen (gk).

Referee: A Wilkie (Chester-le-Street). Bookings: Bradford: McCall. Tottenham: Freund, Young, Iversen, Sherwood.

Man of the match: Walsh.

Attendance: 18,143.