Torquay United vs Bradford City preview
@Valley Parade on Saturday 7 December, 2012
By Mark Scully
It was all going so well, the feel good factor was dripping from every pillar and post around Bradford. Four Wembley appearances beckoned for the Claret and Amber wizards across a variety of competitions and then someone didn’t do there paperwork correctly…
However, not to be greedy I’ll settle for just the three trips to the home of English football this season. It’s frustrating and it’s an error that really shouldn’t have been made, school boy stuff really – but am I actually that bothered? Not in the slightest. It would have been a tough replay at Brentford, a game where realistically I’d of expected Phil Parkinson to once again shuffle his pack – something which has worked well against Port Vale this week.
Even if we had of beaten Brentford the prospect of either Bury or Southend doesn’t get me excited, it’s a game off in what is already a busy enough fixture list and all joking aside are we going to win the FA Cup? Of course we aren’t, but are we going to get promoted out of League Two? We have every chance of that being achieved.
It’s humiliating for the club but one which they shouldn’t be to bothered about, just make sure all the paperwork is in place for the next cup match before we beat Arsenal – don’t want no nasty surprises as we wait for the Semi Final of the Capital One Cup to come around, do we?!
Anyway turning the focus back on tomorrow’s huge game against fellow promotion chasers Torquay United, and The Gulls arrive at Valley Parade in good form with back to back league wins against York City and Dagenham & Redbridge. Top scorer Rene Howe is chasing Nahki Wells down in the scoring charts and has been a thorn in the side of the Bantams numerous times down the last few years. Having won last time out on the road at York, only their second win on the road this season and first since mid September when they were victorious at Wimbledon 1-0. It’s so far been there home form that has seen them reach the edge of the play-offs and only a point behind us.
Last season saw Bradford to the double over Torquay with a 1-0 win at home, thanks to Craig Fagan’s first half strike. A game which saw The Bantams play the majority of the game due to Andrew Davies 24th-minute red card. At Plainmoor, in February once again Fagan netted with a quick fire second from Kyel Reid over turning Danny Stevens early strike for the hosts. Both fixtures in stark contrast to the previous season’s games where it was Torquay who did the double a 2-0 at Plainmoor and a comprehensive 3-0 win at Valley Parade.
The Gulls have already taken points off fellow promotion rivals Fleetwood and Port Vale away from home and despite their lack of wins on their travels are still to be considered dangerous opponents. At home they have seen off Martin Allen’s table toppers Gillingham and also drawn with third placed Cheltenham. So Parky will need to ensure that today’s news about being expelled from the FA Cup doesn’t distract the players to much.
Aside of today’s events, I am cautious about tomorrow’s game. A banana skin of a fixture and given the fact that the Arsenal game and some of the players biggest game of their careers to date will mean they won’t want to miss out. I just hope they don’t start thinking about the Arsenal game until after tomorrow’s game – get the three points and then start to look forward to welcoming Arsene Wenger’s red army to Valley Parade.
After the mid week win at Vale Park with in effect a weakened side, I’d expect all the big players to be back in the team. Matt Duke would retain his place in nets for me, the back four would be Stephen Darby, Rory McArdle, Carl McHugh and James Meredith a midfield four of Gary Jones, Nathan Doyle, Will Atkinson and Blair Turgott and up top James Hanson and Wells – you show me a better starting lineup in this league!
The Bantams despite the recent cup successes come into the game with only two wins in seven league games, and one win in the last three league home games. A win tomorrow would also cement a play-off place going into Christmas period and with the likes of Hines and Reid close to a return to first team action and hopefully Andrew Davies next month the second half of the season could be a superb one for Phil Parkinson’s men as the race for promotion will intensify. Hopefully the squad can be strengthened in January if required and I can’t imagine the queue of players wanting to join a successful club the size of Bradford in this division will be a particularly short one.