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Bantams reserves make their case with five-star display against Vale …

City Res 5, Port Vale Res 1

PHIL Parkinson asked to have his card marked – and the senior heads in City’s reserves took him at his word. In games like yesterday’s played at a near-deserted West Riding County FA headquarters, attitude is key. Parkinson wanted those currently on the first-team fringes to present a case to be recalled to the ranks and will have been pleased with the response in this one-sided encounter.

Mark Marshall and Billy Clarke, in particular, played with a real hunger that belied their surroundings. Vale also had their fair share of experience, none more so than veteran former Leeds and Sheffield United warhorse Michael Brown. The 39-year-old’s patience at the way Vale were being too easily carved open predictably snapped half an hour in when he went through the back of Liam Agnew, one of two trialists on view.

Sunderland midfielder Agnew had got one of the three goals in an opening 18-minute burst and scored again in the second half. But it was Marshall, playing against his old club, who dominated proceedings. It didn’t always come off for the winger some crosses were delivered with too much velocity but he came alive whenever he saw the ball.

Marshall scored first on ten minutes with a sweet finish after Jamie Proctor had cushioned Billy Clarke’s cross into his path. Then the two strikers combined neatly for Clarke to stroke the ball beneath keeper Ryan Boot. City were camped in Vale territory as Boot saved from Proctor and Marshall swung and missed on the edge of the box from Clarke’s pass.

But the Irishman then played in Agnew to beat Boot too easily at his near post as the visitors caved in. Marshall rounded the keeper but was denied on the line before Vale finally offered some resistance, Joe Cracknell responding with a couple of solid saves and commanding his back four vocally. JJ Hooper did pull one back with a penalty soon after the break before City resumed their grip on the game.

Proctor should have got on the scoresheet after Clarke’s precise delivery split the defence again and played him in. But the big striker was the provider for number four, crossing low for Agnew to tap home after a long pass from Sam Wright. Clarke got a well-earned breather at the three-quarter stage but Vale’s pain was not over as Marshall, who else, blasted home a fifth.

It was just what the watching manager would have hoped for as the push for a top-six goal prepares to intensify. City Res: Cracknell, King, Routis, Christie (Omolokun 72), Leigh, Marshall, Wright, Agnew (McBurnie 76), Morris (Cissa 84), Clarke (Mottley-Henry 67), Proctor (Payne 81). Port Vale Res: Boot, Yates, Streete, Faulkner, Morris, Birchall, Brown, Ede, Kelly, Hooper, Campion.