City’s cup continues to runneth over

Bradford City 3

Atkinson 35, Wells 90 (pen), McHugh 120

Northampton Town 3

Demontagnac 43 (pen), Platt 90, Langmead 109

Bradford City win 4-2 on penalties

Tuesday 13 November, 2012

By Jason McKeown

The shield of cup invincibility remains in tact. Some day soon Bradford City are going to lose a cup match again, but on nights like this so much heart and belief can be taken which should stand us in great stead for the weeks and months ahead. Unbeaten in all cups, and memories to be treasured in how to maintain belief and keep going when the chips are down.

It looked as though City had thrown this one away. Having gone 2-1 up in the final minute of the 90, we just had three minutes of stoppage time to see out and the players could clock off on time and victorious. But then James Meredith slipped over and Clive Platt was free to smash home an equaliser and take it into extra time.

City struggled to get going again, and fell behind to Kelvin Langmead’s low finish during the second 15. Carl McHugh became the hero, as he headed home the Bantams’ own injury time equaliser. Back off the canvas. Never knowing when they’re beaten. Invincible.

And we all know what happens when it goes to penalties.

That this tussle stretched so far into the night had much to do with a poor refereeing decision from Mick Russell that should have enabled City to wrap things up before half time. A goal to the good after Will Atkinson netted a second in four games, substitute Adam Baker – brought on early after an unfortunate injury to Zavon Hines – was played through on goal only for his shirt to be repeatedly yanked back by Joe Widdowson.

Baker continued to attempt to run on, before one too many kicks from Widdowson saw him fall over inside the box. A penalty, a red card – Russell awarded neither. And when minutes later Northampton were correctly awarded a penalty converted by Ishmel Demontagnac, the sense of injustice was palpable. Had the referee applied the same rules to both sides, City would have had around 50 minutes to play with a man advantage.

As is so often the case, the equaliser changed a game that City were besting and then some. Alan Connell was chosen to partner James Hanson and delivered – for me – by some distance his best 45 minutes in a City shirt. His first touch, vision and awareness were mightily impressive, as too was his work rate. Atkinson and Hanson were also in fine form, and Scott Brown enjoyed a promising home debut where he used the ball intelligently and tackled effectively. Northampton were largely pinned in their own half.

“Get us playing again, Gary” was the instruction to Jones from Phil Parkinson as he was brought on midway through the second half. I tried sitting behind the dugouts tonight as I often have for cup games/friendlies over the years, and Parkinson’s measured patrolling of the touchline, saying little and trusting his players, is a vast change from the posing and non stop yelling of Peter Jackson (Stuart and Peter Taylor somewhere in-between).

Jones’ introduction was deemed necessary after an opening to the second half where City lost their way and Northampton got on top. There was plenty to admire about the visitors, who looked better than several recent sides at Valley Parade, but their physical approach and attempts to slow down the game did irk after a while. Jones did, indeed, get City playing again. And with Nahki Wells replacing the fading Connell (there’s that downside, again) the pressure grew.

Finally a handball was spotted and City were awarded a penalty. Wells showed great calmness to slot the ball home and that should have been that. Cue the late equaliser and the eventful extra time.

Wells’ spot kick will only add to his burgeoning reputation. Width of a Post has learned from a well-placed source that the Bermudian is apparently attracting serious interest from at least three Championship clubs and one League One outfit. The names were revealed to me but I’m withholding them for now, but it’s safe to say the three Championship clubs are in contention for promotion to the Premiership. City are said to have turned one concrete bid down, but it appears we face a serious battle to keep Nahki beyond January.

Wells missed City’s opening penalty shootout effort tonight. But after personally been fortunate to have witnessed all seven of our previous spot kick successes, I remained very confident. Sure enough Jon McLaughlin saved Northampton’s second, and then Ben Tozer kicked the third into the empty Bradford End. Jones, Atkinson, Stephen Darby and Ricky Ravenhill scored for City, and that was that.

So another night with some cost – Hines’ injury, Meredith going off with a knock during extra time, and yet another additiona 30 minutes for tired legs – but £18,000 prize money and a second round home tie with Brentford a worthwhile reward. Now back to the league and three winnable games. The shield of cup invincibility must be put back into the cupboard, but the confidence gained from tonight’s heroics can last long after these cup adventures finally come to an end.

City: McLaughlin, Darby, McArdle, McHugh, Meredith, Hines (Baker 29), Brown (Gary Jones 63), Ravenhill, Connell (Wells 73), Hanson

Not used: Duke, Doyle, Bass, Swain

Categories: Match Reviews

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

7 replies

  1. Does anyone know if Wells has a minimum-release clause? If so, hope it’s at least a million! That Barnett (?) lad from Crawley went for 1.1 mil apparently.

  2. Pride in the shirt has returned. You cant buy the spirit these lads have, its just there and credit to PP and SP for building a team with such a strength of character. On a side not Im not sure but I think it was Meredith that slipped to allow Platt to score. I might be wrong, I usually am!! Lets hope the injuries to Hines and Meredith are not too serious and another good night at VP. Where were all the fans?

    • You’re right Paul, pride in the shirt has returned…love the design, by the way for me it feels so right playing in hoops. Regarding the missing fans, i believe the releasing of the Arsenal cup tickets on Monday played a large part in the poor turnout…i’m sure another 1000 or so would have turned out for the FA cup game without the expense of buying league cup quarterfinal tickets.

      • Yes Im sure your right Neil, times are tough, it just seems strange to be able to sell 10,000 tickets in two days for Arsenal and not be able to attract 3,000 for a home FA cup tie. Like you say, people are prioritising and who can blame them.

  3. On the attendance, I was disappointed it was 1,000 less than the Burton cup match and I think it made for a strange, quiet, atmosphere. However, for those of us who went, although it wasnt the best match, the drama at the end was worth it. That’s why, personally, I’m going to more matches (all home and some away) this season, as we have a team who have something about them. This season they’re worth watching and paying that little bit extra for. We’ve had seasons of rubbish, so I’m trying to see as much whilst the going’s good!

  4. Completely agree with you Jason, and Paul, that it’s fantastically refreshing to see the team battling so well in the face of adversity…of which we’ve had plenty to deal with so far this season.

    However, I have to disagree with you about Connell. Yes, he showed some nice touches but any time the ball goes through him he takes all the pace out of our attack. Too often his first thought is to produce a trick, which makes him look good, but is often detrimental to the team.

    Opinions, eh? Keeps it interesting!

    Keep up the great work Jason.

    • I didn’t go but agree about Connell, it’s like he’s been told to keep his back to goal. This is an ongoing problem with city’s attack at times, there’s holding the ball up and then there’s waiting for the oppo to get everyone behind the ball. Reid and Hines can have this effect as well.
      Great win though.

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