Burton Albion vs Bradford City preview
@Pirelli Stadium on Sunday 5 May
By Mark Danylczuk
It could have been worse. It could have been better. But I think we will take the one goal deficit at ‘half time’. Indeed, Garry Thompson’s 25-yard screamer could prove pivotal in keeping the tie within City’s reach. Time to believe? Well you wouldn’t count City out.
Think back to 1996 and it was a similar story. 2-0 down at home to Sam Allardyce’s Blackpool after the first leg of the old Second Division play-off semi, and then the famous 3-0 win in the away leg. We could do with City’s players watching that footage to encapsulate the spirit of the squad of the 1995/96 season, as we mount on the push to get to the final.
For City the approach is simple – attack, attack, attack. We need the goal, and if we can get it early you feel could change the momentum of the tie in City’s favour. You would think Kyel Reid, if fit, would come in for Atkinson to penetrate the wings and perhaps Parkinson should also consider giving Connell more of a cameo role if things are not working out up front. With Nakhi Wells not at 100% mentally, you feel, a fresh Connell could give the Bantams some fresh ideas up front.
In terms of tactics, we need to adopt the approach of getting it down and playing on the floor. As good as James Hanson was in terms of winning balls and bringing others into play from our direct approach, it simply wasn’t working and Burton physically matched us. Nathan Doyle had a good impact on Thursday in partnering Gary Jones to shore up the midfield and getting a grip on the game, and I think Parkinson should consider Doyle as a starter for Sunday.
For Burton, it’s tough to know what their mindset is. Will they feel the nerves as they seek to build on their best ever league finish? A one goal lead you feel won’t be enough in Burton manager Gary Rowett’s mind, and he will be urging Jacques Maghoma and Calvin Zola to repeat an impressive double act in tearing City’s defence apart. Burton were also excellent in pressing, closing the ball down and forcing City into mistakes – and this tactic will surely be employed again for the game.
It’s not going to be easy on Sunday. Burton have the best home record in the division, winning an impressive 17 of their 23 home matches and only losing three. City, on the other hand, have far from the best away record but should not be underestimated. On a journey that has taken us, a League Two team – 75th place in the Football League, to a League Cup final, who knows which City team turn up on Sunday? The class of 2012/13 are not ones to give up (note the Watford and Burton cup comebacks to name a few), and it all makes for a tasty encounter at the Pirelli Stadium.
Arguably this has been City’s best and most exciting season for over a decade. Let’s hope (especially for the fans who have spent overnight sleeping and queuing at VP for Burton tickets) that the Bantams can finish the job and take us to Wembley.
Get energised with a good breakfast tomorrow and cheer on the lads. Your Sunday Roast could taste all the better if a second trip to Wembley beckons…