On the brink of the last 16 – City welcome Burton

Bradford City vs Burton Albion League Cup preview

Tuesday 25 September, 2012

By Ian Sheard

Rewind a few years to 2001, City were top of the Premier League, qualified for the latter stages of the Champions League, were in every domestic cup and had recently signed a young and up-coming striker named Christiano Ronaldo for a club record fee of £40 million. The only thing to taint this glorious season was a tricky away game at a small place in Dewsbury, with City needing a win to stay top of the league and all but push L**ds further out of it. After a confident team talk by the manager, they lost 1-2.

Nothing left to do but to hit the ‘reset’ button before the end of the game in order for the ‘auto-save’ function not to kick-in.

I wonder how many of us would have done the same thing after the defeat at Rotherham if this season was merely another game on Football Manager, with a spritely student in charge? It would be tempting. The thing with such computer games is that you never know what would have happened if you had kept the faith and played the next match. May be a fantastic resurgence in form to fire you up-to 4th in the League and, to add to that, staring at a place in the last 16 of the League Cup with only Burton to beat.

Tuesday night brings a certain air of excitement to Valley Parade knowing that for once, winning a League Cup match could actually bring a conceivable outcome. City have been playing extremely well of late at home and, without sounding too cliché, Parky has a selection headache on his hands. Ricky Ravenhill and Ritchie Jones both make returns to the squad after absence from the beginning of the season, and competition for the wingers seems as fierce as anywhere else.

I was reassured to see Kyel Reid and Zavon Hines have an off day against Morecambe and perhaps not produce the pace and trickery that they are and will be renowned for in this league. Not because I question their place in the team, but because it was good to see other members of the squad ‘step-up’ play some good attacking football through the middle of the park. All too often it seemed as though we relied on Reid to supply that bit of magic and then, failing this, just hoof the ball up to James Hanson to see what he could conjure up.

Hanson, in particular, is starting to show glimpses of his first season at Valley Parade and looks to reap the rewards for his fine form, as he continues to score and work his way up the goal scoring league. Parky is left with Alan Connell, Nahki Wells or even Garry Thompson to start up-front. It may be up to the scouting of Parky to decide who partners Hanson (surely) up front on Tuesday, with Wells doing himself no harm scoring on Saturday. Again a pleasant headache for Parky as he wonders whether to continue with Connell who, to be fair, has played well and scored goals; but at the moment seems to lack the composure in front of goal that Wells seems to have. The argument could and should continue all season, with Adam Baker pushing to prove his worth in the side as well. Maybe a League Cup game is the place to give him a chance?

The defence, of late, seems to pick itself. Carl McHugh and Stephen Darby may start, but I can’t see the back four changing much from the last home game.

Onto Burton. Admittedly I enjoyed the banter flying around on Twitter as the balls went in for the third round and names such as Man Utd, Chelsea, Man City and that Dewsbury team were banded about. Then finally, as if it was inevitable, out pops Burton and Twitter went crazy with an expected underwhelmed reaction. I can imagine the same being said a few miles down the road in Burton! “What have we done to deserve Bradford away?”

What this far from glamorous cup-tie does offer us is the prospect of an entertaining game, with what surely will be a top club in the next round for the winner – with TV rights etc. Burton are not shy of scoring goals home or away (15) and are also as vulnerable, if not more so, as City at the back. This may be to a number of factors but one would suggest this is because they enjoy playing attacking football and follow the rule of ‘scoring one more than your opponent, no matter how many they score!’ So, if both teams turn up with this attitude we could be in for a belter.

So, Bradford face Burton in the League Cup with the prospect of goals and the first home league tie for a few years. £15 is all it will set you back…

To me this is still think this is a little over the top for a League Cup game considering the opponents; but I am sure the price would have been the same of the visitors had been from Manchester. One thing that does strike me as a good bit of business by the club is that attendance at the game, as well as the retaining of your ticket stub, almost guarantees you a ticket for the next round, whoever the opponents should be, if we get there. I’ve had the conversation with my father in law, who didn’t really see this as incentive for season tickets holders who have paid their money for the season and shown commitment to the club.

I see it this way:

  • £15 may seem a bit steep for the opponents but it’s at home and City are playing well.
  • If we win the £15 gives you a guarantee for the next round. This would be excellent if we were away to a big club, but how many tickets per person?
  • If we go through and we draw a big club at home. Then those with stubs should be allocated seats first followed by season ticket holders then flexi cards then general public.
  • If we draw another ‘less glamorous’ tie, will the club do the same again?

Who knows, that’s for messieurs Lawn and Rhodes to worry about.

Admittedly the League Cup is considered a bit of a Mickey Mouse competition and, if the T&A is correct, not worth competing in as you get little money until the later stages. But for a lowly League Two club, with fans wanting to see top class players, the prospect of a place in the last 16 wets the appetite.

And, if we lose, we can always have a look for the rest button.



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1 reply

  1. Normally i would expect us to lose tonight. Another so close but we failed at the last hurdle and then watch Burton get Man U at home in the next round.
    However, i actually find me beginning to believe we might just make it through!

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