Bradford City vs Northampton Town preview
@Valley Parade on Saturday 6 April, 2013
By Mark Scully
Easter Monday’s 3-1 win at Torquay United has again raised hopes that there might be an outside chance of the Bantams gate crashing the League Two play off end of season party. Five points off them with a game in hand, four out of the top seven still to play, and four of the remaining six games on our home turf at Valley Parade. It certainly is a great opportunity, and if – and it’s a huge if – City can win all those home games, who knows where that will take Phil Parkinson’s men?
Personally I don’t think we can afford another defeat. A minimum of four wins and two draws, in my opinion, will be enough to sneak into the top seven. And, again, it’s a big if, but should we make the end of season lottery, who would want to face an in-form Bradford City in the play offs, with our crowd backing and big game mentality that we’ve already had this season? It might sound big headed but, if we made the play offs, in my opinion it’s our promotion to throw away. The momentum would certainly be with us at that point.
Aidy Boothroyd’s men arrive at Valley Parade with the second worst away record in the league. Only Torquay United have produced a worse return on their travels than the Cobblers. Boothroyd’s side have only managed 18 points from 20 away games, winning only four, drawing six and losing the other 10. That is in stark contrast to their home record where they have only lost three home games all season – one of which was a 1-0 defeat against the Bantams when Nahki Wells scored the only goal, last October.
The Cobblers have the best home record in the division, with a staggering fifty points being accumulated on home soil. That is clearly a major reason why they sit third in the league, and look as though they could claim an automatic promotion position.
Despite their lofty league position, I still don’t see an awful lot to fear about Northampton. Their away record is clear for all to see – plain and simple, it’s poor. If we can attack and play well like we did in the second half against Southend and – by all accounts –at Torquay, I can’t see anything other than a home win. We are unbeaten in our last four league games against Northampton –that stretches to six if you include the FA Cup first round tie and replay last November. We haven’t lost at home to Northampton whilst being back in League Two.
The stats make for happy reading. Hopefully we can extend the unbeaten run with another three points towards our late promotion push.
In terms of team line up I doubt Parky would opt to change things, clearly his team selection worked a treat down in Devon last Monday – so why change a winning team? Nahki Wells is starting to show glimpses of his old self, and I can see him carrying on his excellent scoring run against The Cobblers. I thought at the time it was a little harsh to take Zavon Hines out of the side, I didn’t think he did a awful lot wrong against Southend. But you can’t drop Garry Thompson as he is playing out of his skin at this moment in time. He looks every inch the player that we all thought we had signed last summer when he arrived from Scunthorpe.
In defence the back four in my opinion picks itself: James Meredith, Rory McArdle, Andrew Davies and Stephen Darby. Personally I can’t see a better back four in the division. Jon McLaughlin keeps goal.
Looking at the visitors, clearly upfront they are physically strong with the man mountain Adebayo Akinfenwa and strike partner Clive Platt, who will no doubt prove a handful for Davies and McArdle. Out on the right hand side, ex-Millwall winger Chris Hackett is in fine form and Meredith will need to keep a close eye on the tricky winger.
Looking away from Saturday’s fixture and the ongoing contract talks between Phil Parkinson and the club, Width of a Post today understands that all parties remain eager to agree a new contract and are comfortable with the length of time it is taking to finalise.
Whilst the contract is sorted, let’s hope we can really push on and close the gap to the play offs. Even if we don’t actually make them, let’s take the season as far as we can in terms of having something to play for. After the season we’ve had, it would be a real shame if it just fizzled out.
Going to Chesterfield next weekend? Need a lift? The Skipton and Craven Bantams are running a coach to and from the match, priced at £12.50 members and £15 non-members. There are a couple of places left, so email Width of a Post (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we will pass you on to the organisers.