Bradford City vs Chesterfield preview
@Valley Parade on Tuesday 6 November, 2012
By Gareth Walker
After our recent Cup excursions, City return to League action with the visit of Chesterfield tonight. It has been ten days since our controversial defeat involving Andy Durso, Lee Bell and Nathan Stanton down at the Pirelli Stadium, although it seems much longer ago.
During that time, City are undefeated in two Domestic Cup games. The euphoria of our penalty shoot out win against Premier League Wigan Athletic was quickly followed by the creditable, if somewhat sobering, draw achieved by our patched up side at Northampton Town in the FA Cup first round.
The fact that PP made four changes to the line up at Sixfields stadium, coupled with his post match comments that supporters would have to get used to a frequently changed side might indicate two things.
Firstly, the effect that the fantastic result of last Tuesday, along with the gruelling Saturday-Tuesday schedule, has had on the aching limbs of the players, clearly meant that some team members were and are going to be rested. Secondly, if any supporter was in any doubt over City’s priorities this season, the fact that we have already secured our lucrative cup draw against Arsenal puts the League back at the forefront of everyone’s minds.
Our League form in the last six games reads DLDWWL and it has seen us drop to four points away from an automatic promotion spots and only one point above eighth place. On the whole, however, our home form has been good and the fact that three out of our next four league games are at VP will raise hopes that we can at least start to cement our place firmly in the top seven again.
Opponents Chesterfield will arrive full of confidence, off the back of an impressive 6-1 victory at home to League 1 Hartlepool United on Saturday. However, their recent league form of LWLWLL makes slightly more encouraging reading for us Bantams. They find themselves 11 places but only six points behind City, despite having a start to the season which was deemed poor enough to earn their previous promotion-winning manager John Sheridan the sack.
The new man at Chesterfield helm is the former Accrington Stanley manager Paul Cook, who has only been in charge for the last two games. It was a slightly surprising appointment and one that the Chesterfield faithful were not too happy with. I am led to believe that the board at the Proact Stadium made the decision to appoint Cook after being impressed with the way that his Stanley side played, despite their defeat, to Chesterfield earlier in the season.
On his arrival, he was told that he would have no money to bring new signings to the club. This is hardly surprising considering that they are apparently paying the perpetually injured one-time City target Marc Richards £4k per week. It shouldn’t therefore raise any eyebrows that Cook attempted to fire his players up by questioning their desire after his first game defeat to bottom side Barnet. The way that they bounced back against Hartlepool makes it look like his words had the desired effect.
This is the first time that City have played Chesterfield since their relegation back to League Two at the end of last season. Two seasons ago, we lost 1-0 at home to a Deane Smalley (remember him?) goal and we drew 2-2 away from home when we conceded an equaliser in the last minute, in what was one of our better performances of a very disappointing season.
Team selection for this game will hopefully see PP revert to his strongest available line up after resting a number of players at the weekend. Rory Mcardle, Nahki Wells and James Hanson will all be expected to return to the starting XI. Craig Forsyth will also be available again having been cup-tied for our last two fixtures. It would be no surprise either to see Zavon Hines start the game after an impressive performance against Wigan. Central defensive recruit John Egan may also be available if he completes his loan move from Sunderland in time, and this could mean a rest for Carl McHugh.
Players that played against Wigan and then started the game against Northampton include Stephen Darby, James Meredith, Nathan Doyle and Gary Jones. Personally, I would hope that these players are fit enough to go again on Tuesday. Matt Duke was the other player not yet mentioned who played in both games. His performances were impressive and it gives PP a tough decision to make as to whether to recall regular League Shot-Stopper Jon McLaughlin to the starting line up.
There is no doubt that this will be a tough reintroduction to league football for us, as the energy sapping run of two games a week continues. However, with our status as the only club left in all three cups, as well as having the pressures of chasing our promotion dream, this is something that players and fans alike will have to begin to expect. Let’s hope that by the time that the FA Cup replay against Northampton comes around in a week’s time, we have taken care of the two bread and butter league games so that we can “relax” and enjoy our cup luxuries again.