Bradford takes the lead over Carlisle in play-off semi-finals with Jamie Walker’s goal.

    Jamie Walker gave Bradford a first leg lead over Carlisle after a 1–0 win in the Sky Bet League Two play-off semi-final.

    The Scottish midfielder scored the only goal in a close encounter at Valley Parade, the game that saw the most viewers in the fourth tier at that stage.

    20,575 spectators saw Carlisle turn up the pressure in the second half, but Mark Hughes’ Bradford held on to take the lead at Brunton Park the following Saturday.

    Only goal difference separated the two teams in the final league table, and only one goal was scored in their previous meetings.

    The initial exchanges were predictably tense in a noisy atmosphere.

    A Ben Barclay header was saved by Bradford goalkeeper Harry Lewis and Joe Garner hit the crossbar, although play was stopped for handballing forward Carlisle.

    The home team took the lead from a free-kick, with Alex Gilliad and Andy Cook heading off a Lewis shot before Scott Banks played at Walker and shot wide of Thomas Hawley Carlyle.

    While Bradford kept up the pressure, Walker was close to a second as his cross shot swept through Carlisle’s net.

    Owen Moxon’s standard delivery looked like the best route for Carlisle. Jack Armer headed off the first corner and Corey Whelan also missed the target from Moxon’s free kick.

    Bradford had another chance in stoppage time at the end of the half when Banks rushed forward into the box, but Hawley was unable to close the corner and deflect a toe kick.

    Carlisle, who had only won one of their previous nine Valley Parade visits, demanded a call early in the second half, and Lewis fired Alfie McCalmont’s first volley.

    Adam Clayton then lost possession in the Bradford half, but Garner lingered in the corner of the penalty area, allowing Romony Crichlow to retrieve the ball.

    Carlisle manager Paul Simpson switched both strikers in the 58th minute for Ryan Edmondson and Christian Dennis.

    Edmondson quickly won a corner but Barclay was unable to properly head the ball.

    Carlisle continued to enjoy the lead and their best chance fell on Edmondson after an error by Crichlow, but he fired on goal before Armer hit the side net.

    Edmondson’s presence in the air gave the visitors an offensive advantage and he was supposed to score from Armer’s cross, but he flew wide of the post with a battered Lewis and looked visibly annoyed with himself.

    Bradford held on as Dennis broke into the lead, but Lewis did just enough to get him far and he shot out the net.

    The loss meant Carlisle had only won two of their last 12 games, but their strong run in the second half would give them hope for a comeback.

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