The Calvin Report: Reality bites for cup stars Bradford

Southend United 2 Bradford City 2: Bantams get back to the routine grind with a draw against Southend in League Two

Searching for talent in the lower Leagues can be a dispiriting chore, but occasionally it has its compensations. As late Christmas presents for a discerning football manager go, Nakhi Wells would be an acceptable alternative to a cashmere sweater from the sales.

The Bradford City striker, fresh from making Thomas Vermaelen wish he had never visited the self-proclaimed curry capital of the UK, looked to have played a pivotal role in inflicting Southend's first defeat in 12 games.

His substitution, to protect a knee problem, coincided with the late loss of a two-goal lead, which manager Phil Parkinson placed into the context of a breathless week. Wells's first-half goal, his 15th of the season, added to his burgeoning reputation, and justified the presence of a posse of scouts.

The Bermudan, who found an unlikely outlet at Carlisle before joining Bradford, thinks more quickly than the Neanderthal defenders of League Two and, at 21, has significant resale value. His natural game intelligence, fluidity of movement, and ability to finish with either foot will make him an inevitable target in January.

Parkinson, however, has the luxury of being able to resist overtures. "Nakhi is a good, good player who is better than this level," he admitted. "But no one is going anywhere. I can now go the other way, and bring people in."

Bradford eased seamlessly back into business, their role in the martyrdom of Arsène Wenger an afterthought. The PR stunts, involving Diana Ross and Dynamo, a tiresome graduate of the Uri Geller school of self-promotion, were placed into perspective.

This was a dose of reality, beyond the comprehension of pampered Premier League players and the plutocrats who use the game for personal advancement. There are few airs and graces at places like Roots Hall. Southend's Paul Sturrock, presented with his League Two manager-of-the-month trophy before kick-off, uses his last such award as a doorstop. He has managed to coax an unbeaten run out of players who are becoming accustomed to not being paid on time.

Worries about the mortgage in the run-up to Christmas were eased for the majority of Sturrock's squad when overdue payments were settled from receipts from the midweek FA Cup replay win over Bury, and an unexpected bonus payment from the transfer of Gary Hooper from Scunthorpe to Celtic.

However, the chairman, Ron Martin, is not one to offer false hope: "I know people say I should plan things better but that isn't always possible. I can't promise it won't happen again."

The wage bill is £100,000 a month. Coincidentally, this is the amount Martin turned down when West Ham wanted to buy Bilel Mohsni in July. When the chairman's bluff was called – he demanded £250,000 – he was forced to allow the French- Tunisian defender to leave on loan to Ipswich, who have yet to give him a start.

Mohsni is the classic lower-League maverick. He has picked up 19 bookings and three red cards since arriving in England in July 2010 and twice walked out during games, taking the train home. Sturrock will not have him back at the club.

Contracts at this level are short- term, minuscule, and dependent on fate. Bradford's win over Arsenal will bankroll the club for at least a season. It was worth up to £1 million in TV income, prize money, sponsorship revenue and gate receipts.

A limited amount will be reinvested in a team which took a mere £7,500 to assemble, but Parkinson is parsimonious by nature. He cancelled the players' Christmas party because of fixture congestion, without a murmur of discontent, and will ignore the opportunity presented by Bradford's FA Cup reprieve by playing a below-strength team in Tuesday's second-round replay against Brentford.

"I want to rest as many players as possible, rather than chasing more money in another cup competition," he said. "I can only push these players so far. They put themselves on the line for the club today, and the chairman is happy for me to play the kids. The whole ethos and culture of this club has turned round."

Just as he has to deal with the increasing interest in Wells, Parkinson must be aware of a sudden chance to indulge his own ambitions. He has six months left on his contract, and bigger clubs can use a manager with his ability to build functional sides on a restricted budget.

Bradford went two up on the hour, when Luke Prosser sliced a James Meredith cross into his own net, but ran out of legs in the final 10 minutes, when a clubbing header by centre-back Ryan Cresswell and Gavin Tomlin's ninth goal in as many games rescued the point.

By that time the scouts had departed. They will be back.

Southend (4-1-3-2): Smith; Clohessy, Cresswell, Prosser, Barker (Eastwood, 87); Mkandawire (Corr, 69); Hurst, Laird, Timlin; Tomlin, Assombalonga.

Bradford (4-4-2): Duke; Darby, McArdle, McHugh, Meredith; Thompson (Forsyth, 60), Doyle (Ravenhill, 80), Jones, Atkinson; Wells (Hines, 71), Hanson.

Referee Stephen Martin.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
Life and Style
A statue of the Flemish geographer Gerard Kremer, Geradus Mercator (1512 - 1594) which was unveiled at the Geographical Congree at Anvers. He was the first person to use the word atlas to describe a book of maps.
techThe 16th century cartographer created the atlas
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot