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Howard’s cup remains half-full after Bradford City stalemate

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse
Mark Howard believes Wanderers are playing better now than they were during a four-game winning streak at the start of the season.

It is now six games in league and cup since Phil Parkinson’s side last won a game but the mood inside the camp is far from despondent.

The Whites still sit third in the table, two points behind leaders Scunthorpe United and now a point down on local rivals Bury.

Saturday’s goalless draw with Bradford City was not particularly well-received by many Wanderers fans but Howard’s cup was half-full and the keeper was pleased to be talking about a second clean sheet of the campaign.

“There are no concerns,” he told The Bolton News. “We are playing better football but I don’t think we are getting the points we deserve.

“It’s weird because at the start of the season we weren’t playing this well but winning games.

“Obviously football swings around quickly. If we play rubbish on Tuesday night and win, I’ll be happy.

“But full credit to the lads, the way we defended, we deserved a clean sheet.

“They played some good football in the middle but we snuffed them out.

“I don’t think they had a genuine shot of note. We’ve been defending well the last few games.”

Bradford had four shots on target, to Wanderers’ meagre one, but Howard enjoyed a relatively stress-free afternoon as defences dominated.

“I wasn’t bored – you stay in the game doing a few other bits, talking and distribution,” he explained.

“We all knew it would be a difficult test. They have been playing good football of late and they are a good team.

“You expect them to be up there at the top with the threat they carry at home and with the fans and the atmosphere over there.”

The build-up to the game had all been geared towards Parkinson and the first time he would face the club he quit in the summer to join Wanderers.

Howard reckons the hype – and the 4,300 travelling fans who occupied the stand behind his goal – did not prove a distraction.

“What the gaffer did there are his achievements, not ours,” he said. “All we had to do was keep our concentration on the game.

“It’s good to have that atmosphere behind you. It makes you stand up more. You should always enjoy playing in front of big crowds and loud fans.”

Bradford’s midfielder Josh Cullen, on loan from West Ham, claimed his side came in for some rough treatment from Wanderers.

The youngster – who played under Parkinson last season – was accused by the Whites boss of a “theatrical” dive to get Josh Vela booked in the first half.

Cullen saw things quite differently.

“When we are trying to play the football as we are, teams are going to try and put us out of our rhythm and disturb us and maybe that is the way teams are going to go about it,” he said.

On the Vela challenge – he insisted that contact was made but felt a booking was the right decision.

“My eyes were on the ball and I have gone and won it. It was a little bit late, but I don’t think there was any sort of maliciousness in it,” he said. “I don’t think he went out to hurt me or anything, so probably a yellow card was fair. That is what I have come to expect. It is not always going to be easy and people are not going to let you get on the ball and they are going to try and ruffle your feathers a bit.”


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