KEIGAN PARKER kept Town’s totesport.com League East Division title ambitions on course – and fired a reminder to manager Lee Clark – as the reserves romped to a 4-1 win at Bradford.
The striker, left out of the 16 for the last two League I matches, added to an early Joe Skarz strike to put Town 3-0 up by half-time at Valley Parade yesterday.
Then, after Town old boy Chris Brandon had pulled one back for the Bantams, Parker sealed victory with a 74th-minute goal.
The three-point haul put unbeaten leaders Town five clear of Hartlepool’s second string, although they have played two games more.
And it set things up nicely for the next game, away to Hartlepool on Wednesday, March 18 (7.00).
At Bradford, Town were skippered by experienced David Unsworth and teenage Simon Eastwood, back from his loan spell at Woking, saved a penalty.
Paul Stephenson’s side needed just 15 minute to take the lead.
Youngster Spencer Harris, who impressed alongside Michael Flynn in central midfield, freed Parker, who broke down the right and crossed for left-back Skarz to shoot home from close range.
The lead was doubled just seven minutes later.
This time Parker latched onto a long clearance from Unsworth and took advantage of a mix-up in the Bradford defence to lob home from the edge of the area.
Parker’s second and Town’s third arrived in the 36th minute.
The former Blackpool man stole possession and lofted in another shot which keeper Matthew Convey could only palm into his own net.
Eastwood’s penalty save came from Joe Colbeck in the 40th minute.
First the 19-year-old blocked the winger’s shot, then he followed up to smother the ball in the melee which followed.
Eastwood was beaten in the 70th minute, when Brandon, who because of a knee injury has yet to play for Bradford’s first team after signing a two-year deal in the summer, curled in a free-kick after Unsworth was penalised for a challenge on Barry Conlon.
But Parker restored Town’s three-goal cushion when he made the most of a superb through ball by substitute Aiden Chippendale to coolly slide the ball past Convey.
Town: Eastwood, Clarke (Powell, 50mins), Skarz, Flynn, Franks, Unsworth, Hunt, Harris (Nightingale, 73mins), Denton, Parker, Codman (Chippendale, 65mins). Subs not used: Barlow Atkinson.