****(My match reports from our Premiership days – 2000-2001)
– Match 01 – InterToto Cup Second Round First Leg – July 2nd 2000
– FK Atlantas 1 (Lukosevicius 26 pen)
– Bradford City 3 (Rankin 9, Windass 38, Blake 74 pen)
Chris Hutchings was able to start his managerial reign with a win at a time when most players and managers are still working on their holiday tan.
Goals from Isaiah Rankin, former brickie Dean Windass and Robbie Blake gave the Bantams a comfortable victory in Lithuania to give them hope of a prolonged run in Europe this season.
The triumph is all the more creditable as the Yorkshiremen went into the tie with only nine senior professionals in their ranks. With more than half the squad away on holiday, having booked their summer break unaware of the club’s decision to participate in the tournament, it left 42-year-old new manager Hutchings, who replaced the want-away Paul Jewell, with few options.
Just four of the starting eleven- Wayne Jacobs, Ashley Westwood, Blake and Windass – were involved in the thrilling last day win over Liverpool to preserve City’s Premiership status. A further three, Lee Todd, Mark Bower and Scott Kerr, failed to make an appearance between them last season, but they were thrust into the Baltic Sea fray. The substitutes bench was made up of inexperienced youngsters, without an senior appearance between the five.
Isaiah Rankin got this makeshift City side off to a dream start in the ninth minute when he slammed a 20 yard strike low in to the bottom corner of Ivan Sipov’s goal. Good work by Robbie Blake freed Dean Windass who slid the ball across the edge of the area for Rankin, the former Arsenal man, to rifle home.
The goal roused the Lithuanians, who are currently third in their domestic championship, and provoked some spirited play as they peppered Aidan Davison’s goal from long range on a number of occasions. The hosts hauled themselves back into the game after 26 minutes when Edvinas Lukosevicius converted a dubious following a rash challenge by Ashley Westwood on Karalius. However, Hutchings’ side displayed their gritty character when, 12 minutes later, they burst back in to the lead.
Windass, who was looking lively despite a premature start to the season, skillfully curled a free-kick in to the top corner on the 38 minute mark, after Blake was upended 20 yards from goal. The former Oxford and Aberdeen man seeming to carry over the form that made him Valley Parade’s 10 goal top scorer last year.
City put the game beyond doubt when Robbie Blake converted a penalty in the 74th minute after Osipov brought down Rankin in the area. The offence only received a yellow card but the strike and an impressive start to Hutchings tenure was enough to cheer the hearts of the handful of travelling fans who made the arduous journey in to Europe.
- FK Atlantas: Osipov, Puckov, Lukosevicius, Vainoras (Tautvydas 45), Karalius, Zernys (Kontautas 68), Vijeikis, Veseljevas (Petreikes 57), Maciulevicius, Suika, Vasiljev
- Subs Not Used: Valius, Raliukonis, Cepas
- Booked: Osipov, Petreikes
- Bradford City: Davison, Westwood, Bower, Myers, Todd, Whalley, Kerr, Windass, Jacobs, Blake, Rankin
- Subs Not Used: Worsnop, Emanuel, Hardy, Lee, Fishlock
- Booked: Westwood, Windass, Kerr
- Attendance: 3,500
- Referee: Mario Van Der Ende (Holland)