The Bantams’ youth team left St Helens’ Langtree Park out of the F.A Youth Cup but with their pride still very much intact after a sprinted display against a talented Liverpool under 18s side.
Liverpool, who have defeated the likes of Real Madrid and Basel in European youth matches already this season, were two goals up after only five minutes through Sergi Canos and Jerome Sinclair.
City fought back from those two early blows, however, to make a greater fist of things, especially in the second period.
They could have even registered on the scoresheet late on but for a smart reaction save from Liverpool ‘keeper Andy Firth to deny Reece Webb-Foster in injury time.
After impressively defeating Barnsley last month to earn their date with the Merseyside club, City stuck with the vast majority of the starting eleven from the previous round, with Sumaili Cissa coming in for Joe Brennan as the only change.
City’s apprentices suffered a difficult start to their big tie though when Liverpool raced into an early lead in only the second minute.
Skipper James Pollard’s attempted back-pass towards goalkeeper Elliott Barker was read by the pacey attacker Sheyi Ojo.
Ojo got the better of Barker as the pair contested the loose ball, allowing the Liverpool man to move away from the Bantams shot-stopper before squaring for team-mate Canos to tap into an unguarded net from close range.
Liverpool then doubled their lead in the fifth minute when Sinclair turned into shooting space inside City’s penalty area before firing low into the bottom corner, beating Barker at his near post.
The hosts could have netted a third just four minutes later but Ojo’s header from Jordan Rossiter’s inviting cross was ruled out for offside.
Liverpool were threatening again in the eighteenth minute when Canos’ ball into the box found Sinclair lurking. The forward moved away from Pollard to give himself a sight of goal but his shot on the turn was blocked behind for a corner by the leg of the Bantams defender as he lay grounded on the floor.
City’s youngsters were continuing to battle hard as the half progressed and trying to bridge the gulf in class between the two sides but Liverpool were still looking a real danger to the Bantams from more than one area.
Midfielder Adam Phillips was the next to try and test Barker in the City goal when his 30 yard free-kick midway into the first period rattled the crossbar.
The Bantams’ first opening of the game came shortly afterwards when Callum Chippendale’s delivery from a wide free-kick eventually found Pollard unmarked over by the far post.
With his back to goal, Pollard tried to hook the ball towards Liverpool’s net but his ambitious overhead kick effort looped over Firth’s bar.
City went closer with their next attempt towards Firth’s goal later in the half when Dylan Mottley-Henry’s teasing cross looked to find Webb-Foster in the middle.
Webb-Foster’s connection on the cross wasn’t clean unfortunately but Cissa was waiting behind to fire in a low right-footed drive that Firth clung onto via a save down to his left.
Liverpool responded with a chance of their own shortly afterwards as Barker was forced to save with his legs to stop an angled drive from Canos sneaking in at his near post.
The Bantams had another sighter of goal on the half hour mark when Firth failed to properly deal with Chippendale’s corner delivery but Sam Wright fired the loose ball over from around the edge of the area.
Jack Waters was introduced at left back for Ross Kershaw at the beginning of the second period. City started the half in promising fashion, with Webb-Foster only denied a clear run on goal by a desperate last-ditch tackle from Kristof Polgar after the striker had latched onto a lofted pass from Wright.
Despite the Bantams’ best endeavours in the early stages after the restart though, they still could have found themselves further behind but for a smart double save by Barker to firstly deny Ojo and then Canos on the rebound.
As time progressed in the second half, City continued to have a better say in the contest and look more comfortable against their higher ranked opponents.
Cissa, who looked a threat for City whenever he had the ball at his feet, fired a low centre across the six yard box, narrowly missing the lunging frame of Webb-Foster in the middle. Waters tried to keep the attack alive by firing the ball back into the mix over by the far side but Firth was able to gather up.
Liverpool were still looking for goals themselves in the final quarter of the game though, and Sinclair perhaps could have had one when he beat James King to a ball into the area. With the space to take his time, Sinclair wasted the chance, however, by firing over the bar.
City had the final opening of the game in last minute of stoppage time when Waters’ cross found Webb-Foster deep inside the area but his effort from around ten yards out was pushed away by an alert Firth.
BRADFORD CITY LINE UP:
1. Elliott Barker
2. Rhys Jenkinson
3. Ross Kershaw
4. James King
5. James Pollard
6. Daniel Devine
7. Dylan Mottley-Henry
8. Sam Wright
9. Reece Webb-Foster
10. Callum Chippendale
11. Sumaili Cissa
12. Chandler Hallwood
14. Kesi Omolokun
15. Zander McBurnie
16. Luca Mellor
17. Jack Waters
Bradford City changes:
Waters for Kershaw (46), McBurnie for Wright (68), Mellor for Jenkinson (85)
Bradford City cautions:
Devine (42), Wright (57), Pollard (86)