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A spirited second-half performance saw Bradford City come from behind to beat Stevenage 3-2, claiming all three points in Hertfordshire. 

Carl Piergianni’s header broke the deadlock for Stevenage just before the half-hour mark, with the two sides going into the break at 1-0. 

Matt Derbyshire’s strike brought the visitors level four minutes into the second-half, sparking City’s comeback. The Bantams took the lead for the first time in the match just seven minutes later, as Andy Cook converted from the penalty spot.

The hosts found the equaliser through Dan Sweeney’s header with 15 minutes remaining, but Jamie Walker’s 86th minute goal ensured all three points for City, ending Boro’s 12-game unbeaten run. 

Both teams made it clear from the start that they were ready for a physical battle as Stevenage began to control possession. 

It was Stevenage who tested the opposition keeper first, with Michael Bostwick’s deflected strike just before the 20 minute mark forcing Harry Lewis into a save. 

With 25 minutes on the clock, Steve Evans’ side were rewarded for their spells of pressure.

Jake Forster-Caskey’s delivery from a corner was well met by Piergianni, who headed home to give Boro the lead. 

Carrying the momentum from their goal, Stevenage continued on the front foot and came close to doubling their advantage in the 34th minute. 

Forster-Caskey hit a weighted cross which again found the head of Piergianni. This time he opted to play the ball back across and into the path of Josh March who rifled an effort towards goal but was forced to watch it travel inches over the crossbar. 

The visitors searched for a response and came close 10 minutes before the interval. 

Cook successfully contested the ball with Stevenage’s backline, managing to play Derbyshire in behind. His half-volley failed to test Jokull Andresson as the effort went wide. 

Jamie Walker followed up minutes later with an effort that sailed over the crossbar as the Bantams headed into the break 1-0 down. 

Thomas Gadd

Immediately after the break, the Bantams continued to apply pressure to Stevenage’s backline with Mark Hughes’ side finding the equaliser just four minutes into the second-half.  

Cook’s headed pass presented Derbyshire with a chance through on goal. The January transfer window signing struck an effort which rattled the underside of the crossbar and fell into the back of the net leaving Andresson little chance.  

City’s search to take the lead intensified. 

Brad Halliday directed a free-kick from his half into a congested Stevenage penalty area, where Sweeney was adjudged to have fouled Matty Platt resulting in referee Leigh Doughty pointing to the spot. 

Cook stepped up and converted, placing his shot into the bottom right hand corner. Andresson guessed the right way but was not able to prevent City from taking the lead. 

Despite losing control of the game Boro looked to fight back and came close to finding the equaliser just after the hour mark. Jordan Roberts created space and whipped in a cross to March whose headed effort was clawed off the line by Lewis to protect City’s lead. 

Steve Evans’ side gained confidence and continued to test the resolve of City. With 73 minutes played the hosts brought the game level once more. 

Forster-Caskey’s crossing ability proved valuable again as his corner found the head of Sweeney, who nodded home to redeem himself after conceding the City penalty. 

With just over 15 minutes to be played, both sides went in search of the winner. 

Boro came close with an effort from Alex Gilbey, who after successfully beating his man, hit an effort at Lewis who punched away for a corner.

It was City who made their chances count as they took the lead in the 86th minute.

Cook secured his second assist of the match, finding Walker inside the box. The Scotsman looked up and kept his composure to slot the ball past Andresson.

City managed to see out the final few minutes with Doughty blowing his whistle to confirm all three points were taken back to West Yorkshire, inflicting Stevenage’s first defeat in 13 games. 

STEVENAGE: Jokull Andresson, Luther James-Wildin (Jonathan Tomkinson 45’), Max Clark, Carl Piergianni, Dan Sweeney, Jordan Roberts, Alex Gilbey, Michael Bostwick (Jake Taylor 90’), Jamie Reid (booked 31’, Luke Norris 83’), Jake Forster-Caskey, Josh March (Danny Rose 83’). Subs not used: Adam Przybek, Daryl Horgan, Josh Reid.

GOALS: Piergianni (26’), Sweeney (73’).

CITY: Harry Lewis, Brad Halliday (booked 74’), Liam Ridehalgh (Ciaran Kelly 76’), Matty Platt, Richie Smallwood, Andy Cook, Jamie Walker (Thierry Nevers 90’), Alex Gilliead, Matt Derbyshire (Vadaine Oliver 76’), Sam Stubbs (booked 34’), Adam Clayton (booked 7’). Subs not used: Colin Doyle, Ryan East, Vadaine Oliver, Harry Chapman, Abo Eisa.

GOALS: Derbyshire (48’), Cook (56’), Walker (86’).

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