Loan : Portsmouth – Bradford City
Loan : Portsmouth – Bradford City
|Luke McGee has joined Bradford on loan until the end of the season.
The 24-year-old goalkeeper has linked up with a Bantams side chasing promotion from League Two.
McGee has made 55 appearances for the Blues since signing from Tottenham in the summer of 2016.
He most recently featured in an EFL Trophy victory over Arsenal’s under-21 side midway through last season.
Everyone at Pompey would like to wish Luke all the best during his time at Valley Parade.
Gareth Evans got the ball rolling from the penalty spot, while Tom Naylor ensured the interval lead was a comfortable one.
Hope Akpan did reduce the deficit for the struggling Bantams, only for Jamal Lowe to immediately restore the two-goal advantage.
Ben Close then ensured the scoreline received a gloss by adding a brace to cap a fine individual display.
The downside for the Blues were injuries suffered by Oli Hawkins, Ronan Curtis, Matt Clarke and Nathan Thompson – the latter two following a clash of heads.
Throw in a delay while a drone flew over the ground and it was certainly an eventful afternoon on the south coast.
Kenny Jackett made one change from the side that won at Bury to reach the Checkatrade Trophy final earlier in the week.
Lowe came in for Viv Solomon-Otabor out wide, with Christian Burgess making a quicker than expected return from an ankle injury.
There was a minute’s applause before kick-off in memory of Division Three title-winner Bobby Doyle, who sadly passed away earlier in the week.
The start of the first half was a disjointed affair, with neither goalkeeper being called into action during the early stages.
Hawkins did almost break the deadlock on six minutes, stooping to head against the post after Evans had lifted the ball into the mixer.
Close then swivelled neatly inside the box moments later, although failed to guide his shot on target.
Those opportunities aside, it was not exactly proving to be a flowing contest, but Pompey started to dominate as the game progressed.
They were handed an excellent chance to open the scoring midway through the half when Oliver Langford pointed to the spot.
Evans had sent a corner into the box and with Hawkins being hauled to the ground by Anthony O’Connor, the referee had no choice.
It was EVANS who stepped up to take the penalty and confidently slammed his penalty into the top corner.
The traffic was mostly one-way from that point, with Hawkins proving to be a particular menace to the Bantams back-line.
He played a fine pass through to Curtis on 34 minutes, but the ball got stuck under the forward’s feet and Lowe’s effort was blocked.
And their pressure paid off late in the half when the advantage was doubled, courtesy of another Evans corner.
It was flapped at by Richard O’Donnell and the ball fell for Curtis, whose strike cannoned off the underside of the bar.
The forward thought it had crossed the line, but there was no signal from the officials and NAYLOR followed up to slot home.
Bradford City 0
Pompey continued to look bright once the action restarted and Clarke glanced an Evans corner past the post.
But there was a bizarre incident just past the hour mark, when the referee called both sets of players to the sidelines.
Everybody was looking up in the air and there was a drone hovering overhead, but it eventually flew off and the action was able to restart.
It was the Bantams who were next to go close, with Craig MacGillivray doing well to palm over Akpan’s drive.
But Akpan did score from the resulting corner, driving the ball into the net after Kelvin Mellor’s had headed the ball into his path
Pompey’s response was immediate and when Lee Brown whipped a dangerous cross into the box, LOWE got down to convert with his chest.
But Hawkins had picked up an injury and was withdrawn by James Vaughan – not that it stopped the hosts’ momentum.
They soon had a fourth goal, as Evans met a delivery from Curtis with a half-volley that was turned into the net by CLOSE.
There was more injury concern for the Blues following a sickening clash of heads between Clarke and Nathan Thompson.
Both medical teams were quickly on the case and the right-back was withdrawn for Anton Walkes, with Clarke carrying on after getting bandaged up.
Pompey continued to attack and almost increased their lead, only for O’Donnell to tip over Lowe’s fierce drive.
A bloodied Clarke was struggling, however, and Jackett made his final change by bringing him off for Dion Donohue.
The action continued at a breathless pace and the hosts did have a fifth goal on 87 minutes, with Curtis’ pass being cut out, but the ball breaking for CLOSE to fire into the bottom corner.
The various injuries and drone interruption meant there were 10 minutes of stoppage-time displayed by the fourth official.
And Pompey finished the contest with 10 men, as Curtis pulled up while chasing the ball and hobbled off the pitch.
But the final moments passed by incident-free, as the Blues brought an impressive week to a close by collecting all three points.
Pompey (4-1-4-1): MacGillivray; Thompson (Walkes 77), Burgess, Clarke (Donohue 84), Brown; Naylor; Lowe, Evans (c), Close, Curtis; Hawkins (Vaughan 69)
Goals: Evans 23 (pen), Naylor 41, Lowe 67, Close 70, 87
Subs not used: Bass, Haunstrup, Solomon-Otabor, Pitman
Bradford (4-2-3-1): O’Donnell; Caddis (c) (Mellor 46), O’Connor, Knight-Percival, Wood (Miller 62); Akpan, Butterfield; Ball, Payne (Clarke 72), O’Brien; Doyle
Goals: Akpan 65
Booked: Caddis, Knight-Percival
Subs not used: Wilson, Anderson, Maltby, Patrick
Referee: Oliver Langford
Attendance: 17,657 (493 away fans)
It was the only goal of a ‘bottom v top’ encounter that provided plenty of scoring chances for both teams.
But the struggling Bantams were dealt a blow when Adam Chicksen was dismissed late on, while Hope Akpan missed a great chance to snatch a point at the death.
Kenny Jackett made three changes from the side that drew with Accrington the previous week.
Jack Whatmough replaced Christian Burgess in the centre of defence, while Anton Walkes came in for the suspended Nathan Thompson on the right.
And Tom Naylor made an immediate return having served his own ban, with Ben Close dropping to the bench.
A minute’s silence was held before kick-off, remembering both those who have served their country and also the victims of the Leicester helicopter tragedy.
It was Bradford who were quickest out of the traps and Craig MacGillivray had his palms stung by Lewis O’Brien in the early stages.
A David Ball free-kick then led to some pinball in the visitors’ box after Ben Thompson had sliced his clearance.
Pompey soon settled into their stride, however, and began to dominate possession as the first half progressed.
They broke the deadlock with a neat move on 12 minutes, starting when Jamal Lowe shrugged off a challenge and surged forward.
He picked out Ronan Curtis and the winger cut the ball back for a grateful EVANS to lash into the net from six yards out.
Tom Naylor then nodded an Evans corner past the post, while Lee Brown fired ambitiously over from long-range as the Blues looked to strengthen their advantage.
The scores might have been level midway through the half, however, with Whatmough forced to make an excellent sliding challenge inside the box to deny George Miller.
There were opportunities at both ends of the pitch and Oli Hawkins sent a shot down and narrowly over when Evans’ free-kick had been nodded on by Naylor.
Bradford then came close to scoring with a set-piece of their own, with a Josh Wright delivery eventually gathered by MacGillivray.
The action soon switched and when Thompson’s fierce drive deflected off Wright, Richard O’Donnell had to get down low to his left to make the save.
MacGillivray then did well to keep out Miller’s fierce effort before claiming the ball after it had been sent back into the box.
Referee Geoff Eltringham waved away half-hearted appeals for a penalty following O’Brien’s tumble in the box.
And former Pompey loanee Eoin Doyle then rolled a shot comfortably into MacGillivray’s arms, when he really should have done more to test the keeper.
Bradford City 0
The visitors did not seem content to merely sit on their narrow lead once the action resumed after the interval.
Thompson’s intended cut-back for Evans was intercepted by Akpan, while Lowe could not quite get on the end of Curtis’ teasing cross.
Ryan McGowan received a booking for halting one of Matt Clarke’s famous surging runs up the pitch on 53 minutes.
And while the resulting free-kick came to nothing, a looping header from Curtis moments later had to be grabbed by a back-pedalling O’Donnell.
But Bradford missed a decent chance to get back on level terms on the hour mark, as skipper Anthony O’Connor headed O’Brien’s fine cross straight into the arms of MacGillivray.
The hosts were certainly not looking like a side struggling at the bottom and it took a fine tackle from Whatmough to halt another attack.
It grew more tense as the minutes ticked away and the Bantams sensed they could get something from the contest.
Pompey were still looking a real threat on the break, though, with Lowe and Curtis continuing to prove a menace.
Evans was withdrawn for Close on 76 minutes, as Jackett opted to add some fresh legs to his midfield.
Chances had started to dry up, although Chicksen flashed a dangerous delivery across the face of goal that somehow evaded everyone.
But the Bradford left-back soon had to troop off to the dressing room. Having been booked earlier for a foul on Lowe, he brought down the same player to earn a red card.
It looked like the Blues would just see things out, but their opponents almost grabbed a stoppage-time leveller.
Substitute Sherwin Seedorf – a distant relative of Dutch superstar Clarence – sent the ball through to Akpan, but he lifted his shot over the bar.
Bradford (4-4-2): O’Donnell; McGowan, O’Connor (c), Knight-Percival, Chicksen; Ball, Akpan, Wright (Payne 65), O’Brien; Miller (Seedorf 88), Doyle (Bruenker 80)
Sent off: Chicksen (two yellow cards)
Subs not used: Sykes-Kenworthy, Wood, Isherwood, Goldthorp
Pompey (4-2-3-1): MacGillivray; Walkes, Whatmough, Clarke, Brown; B.Thompson, Naylor; Lowe, Evans (c) (Close 76), Curtis (Wheeler 87); Hawkins
Goals: Evans 12
Subs not used: McGee, Burgess, Haunstrup, Mason, Pitman
Referee: Geoff Eltringham
Attendance: 16,393 (1,289 Pompey fans)
They trailed at the break to Nathaniel Knight-Percival’s strike, only for Brett Pitman to thunder home a leveller after the interval.
But the Blues were unable to build on that and some sloppy defending allowed Matty Lund to restore the Bantams’ lead, with Charlie Wyke adding a third goal in stoppage-time.
It was a disappointing evening with play-off rivals Charlton beating Shrewsbury, although Pompey remain a single point outside the top six.
Kenny Jackett made one change from the side that drew with Plymouth at the weekend.
Connor Ronan replaced Stuart O’Keefe in the centre of midfield, meaning Ben Close continued in the holding role in front of the back four.
Pompey were slow to get going, although a couple of balls into the box caused problems in the opening stages.
Jack Whatmough’s long throws were providing the biggest threat, however, and when one was flicked on by Kal Naismith, Bradford keeper Colin Doyle had to fumble the ball clear.
But it was the hosts who broke the deadlock on 14 minutes after Alex Gilliead had pressured Dion Donohue into conceding a corner.
It was sent into the box by Tony McMahon and nodded on by Matt Kilgallon for Knight-Percival to lash home at the far post.
There were not an abundance of openings at either end of the pitch in truth, although Matt Clarke headed wide following good work from Jamal Lowe to win a corner.
Pitman thought he should have won a penalty after going down in the box under pressure from Kilgallon, only for referee Andy Woolmer to wave away his protests.
It was a bright spell for the Blues and when Ronan let fly from 25 yards, Doyle dived to his right to palm the ball clear.
Another opportunity arrived after Close had been felled on the edge of the ‘D’, with Pitman placing a clever low free-kick through the wall and Doyle doing well to smother the danger.
The Bantams still had their moments, though, and Knight-Percival could not quite guide the ball on the target from another set-piece.
Pompey had one more chance from a corner deep into stoppage-time, but when Whatmough met Donohue’s cross, the home defence scrambled clear.
Bradford City 1
There was a bright start to the second half, with Gareth Evans slipping a low pass across the box for Lowe. His close-range finish was deflected wide, although the linesman’s flag was raised for offside.
A couple of corners caused problems at the other end, with one punched clear by Luke McGee, while Clarke got down low to head away the second.
Jackett freshened things up with a double switch on 55 minutes, as Ronan and Evans made way for O’Keefe and Oli Hawkins.
That also led to a slight change in formation, as Pitman dropped in behind Hawkins in a 4-2-3-1 system.
And the Blues almost grabbed a leveller soon after, with Lowe cutting the ball back and Close stabbing a shot just past the upright.
But the equaliser did arrive just past the hour mark and there were no prizes for guessing who scored it.
PITMAN continued his prolific scoring spell by collecting a pass from O’Keefe and expertly bending a 25-yard effort past Doyle’s despairing dive and into the net.
The scores were level for just 10 minutes, however, as Bradford retook the lead following a spell of frantic play when the Blues were unable to get the ball clear.
There was a mix-up at the back between Donohue and Clarke, which allowed substitute Lund to bundle through and slot past a helpless McGee.
Jackett made a final throw of the dice by bringing on Conor Chaplin for Naismith to add to the attack on 75 minutes.
There was a lengthy break in play when Tyrell Robinson went down injured for the hosts and was eventually stretchered off the pitch, receiving warm applause from both sets of fans.
A display of nine additional minutes from the fourth official raised the hopes of the large army of travelling Pompey fans behind the goal.
But they were dashed when McGee parried away a free-kick from McMahon and Wyke followed up to score.
Bradford (4-4-2): Doyle; McMahon (c), Knight-Percival, Kilgallon, Warnock; Gilliead, Guy (Vincelot 75), Dieng, Robinson (Poleon 83); Wyke, Bruenker (Lund 64)
Goals: Knight-Percival 14, Lund 71, Wyke 90+5
Subs not used: Raeder, Chicksen, Patrick, McCartan
Pompey (4-1-4-1): McGee; Thompson, Whatmough, Clarke, Donohue; Close; Lowe, Evans (Hawkins 55), Ronan (O’Keefe 55), Naismith (Chaplin 75); Pitman (c)
Goals: Pitman 61
Booked: O’Keefe, Pitman
Subs not used: Bass, Burgess, Haunstrup, May
Referee: Andy Woolmer
Attendance: 19,554 (912 Pompey fans)
The hosts were on top for much of the contest, with Kyle Bennett and Matty Kennedy both coming close to scoring.
But they were made to play for their profligacy late on when Matthew Kilgallon headed home a late winner for the third-placed Bantams.
Kenny Jackett made one change from the side that were beaten at Blackburn the previous week.
Brett Pitman – wearing a mask to protect his recently broken nose – was fit enough to start after recovering from a knee operation, with Oliver Hawkins dropping to the bench.
The first half was a lively affair, although neither goalkeeper was given too much to do, with the hosts in particular misplacing their shooting boots.
Bennett had an early attempt charged down by Adam Thompson, while Christian Burgess was unable to turn Dion Donohue’s corner on target at the far post.
The former was producing an energetic performance and he did well to hold the ball up on the right and feed Jamal Lowe, who charged into the box and drew a save from Colin Doyle.
Pompey were looking the more threatening side and when Kennedy whipped in a dangerous free-kick, Pitman’s header was deflected wide.
There were a couple of scrambles in the area at the other end of the pitch, but the ball was cleared to safety on each occasion.
Some of Bennett’s build-up play was superb, but he was lacking a clinical touch when picked out by Kennedy, ballooning a shot high into the Milton End.
Kennedy than had a chance of his own on 36 minutes, trying his luck with a 20-yard curler that dipped narrowly over the crossbar.
Bradford almost took a shock lead just before the break after Matt Clarke had been punished for a foul out wide.
Tony McMahon sent a superb delivery into the Blues box and Romain Vincelot’s header was inches off target.
But it was the hosts who finished the half on top and Ben Close had an effort blocked after being teed-up by Bennett’s clever pass.
Bradford City 0
Bennett’s mixed afternoon continued after the interval when he did brilliantly to intercept a back-pass and round Doyle.
But that forced him out wider than he would have liked and he was left with head in hands after only being able to fire into the side netting.
The home fans’ frustrations grew further when McMahon took an age to tie his shoelaces, with referee Dean Whitestone doing little to hurry him up.
Bradford then missed an opportunity to forge ahead themselves, with Charlie Wyke directing his free header at Luke McGee.
But the action was soon back down the other end of the pitch and the ball had to be cut out when Lowe tricked his way into the box and tried to send it into the mixer.
The second half was being played at a frenetic pace, as both sides looked to get forward and find an opener.
Jackett made his first change on 67 minutes, with Bennett afforded a standing ovation as he made way for Conor Chaplin.
The newcomer made an instant impact by feeding Close, only for Doyle to leave his line and make a block.
And the keeper then got to his feet and made an even better save when Kennedy thundered the loose ball towards goal.
Donohue sent the resulting corner into the danger zone and a leaping Burgess looped his header onto the roof of the net.
But it was Bradford who were celebrating on 80 minutes after Dion Donohue had been booked for a foul on Alex Gilliead.
McMahon whipped the ball into the box, where Kilgallon was left in too much space to send a header past McGee.
Hawkins came on for Donohue as Jackett added an extra forward option to try to engineer some late drama.
But despite pushing plenty of men up the pitch for the closing stages, the Bantams held on to secure the victory.
Pompey (4-2-3-1): McGee; Thompson, Burgess, Clarke, Donohue (Hawkins 86); Close, O’Keefe; Lowe, Bennett (Chaplin 67), Kennedy; Pitman (c)
Booked: Donohue, Pitman
Subs not used: Bass, Haunstrup, Rose, Evans, Naismith
Bradford (4-4-2): Doyle; McMahon, Thompson, Kilgallon, Field; Gilliead, Reeves, Vincelot (c), Law; Wyke, Taylor (Dieng 84)
Goals: Kilgallon 80
Subs not used: Raeder, Hendrie, Robinson, Jones, McCartan, Patrick
Referee: Dean Whitestone
Attendance: 18,067 (1,003 away fans)