Doncaster Rovers vs Bradford City preview
@The Keepmoat Stadium on Friday 3 April 2015
By Jake Verity
Tuesday was bitterly disappointing for us to watch on as fans. Our beloved Bantams seemingly crumble in what should have been a great spectacle for all to watch and enjoy.
We went to Valley Parade optimistic, expecting a real feisty encounter between two ambitious sides aiming for Championship football. That wasn’t what we saw though. We saw a slow display, void of confidence and chances. This was a game which proved to us that Championship football, although still possible for next season, may not be the best option.
Bradford City fans are slowly accepting that another season in League One is nowhere near as bad as it sounds. Solidarity is key as a football club and if we were to strengthen wisely over the summer, there is no reason as to why we cannot aim for the automatic places. Quality is already within our squad. It’s about ensuring the rotational players possess the same level of ability as our starting eleven. Many times when a key player has been missing, we’ve needed somebody to step up and they quite simply haven’t.
Onto the topic of Friday, for City the Yorkshire derbies have certainly been one to forget this season – in the league anyway. Barnsley, Doncaster and Sheffield United have enjoyed victories over us this season making painful displays for the fans. With our clashes against Barnsley and Sheffield United featuring live on Sky, our capitulation at the hands of local rivals certainly was tough to take.
When it comes down to derbies, more than just points are at stake. Bragging rights take the forefront and they are an ingredient that you don’t want to forget from the recipe to success. The Friday night clash against Doncaster means more than just a derby, it’s a season definer.
I’ll set the scene. 29 March 2013, the sunshine is beating down on Valley Parade as Phil Brown starts his managerial reign at Southend. 11 minutes have passed and Southend already lead 2-0 up. The Bradford City play off dream is fading away, ever so slowly.
As Phil Parkinson’s sides have frequently demonstrated though, we had character then and we have character now. Zavon Hines and James Hanson pulled City back level that day. We were sat in eleventh place following that result. Eight points adrift of the final play off place that Exeter occupied. Yet that game was at the start of a resurgent run in which we crept into that final spot and ultimately earned promotion.
That season, Parkinson galvanized his troops following a dismal display at Exeter in which we suffered a 4-1 loss. A result that simply wasn’t good enough was responded to in the correct manner: a manner in which resulted in promotion. We can do that again if we put our minds to it, we really can.
The Bantams are back on the road tonight after three successive home games that brought mixed results. The draw with Fleetwood was painful and incredibly hurtful on fans and players. A miserable week, in which we bowed out of the cup to Reading, was compounded by Pond’s 91st minute equaliser after City led 2-0. As fans, we could only hope for Parkinson to be ruthless with the players, to really show his aggression and let them know that it’s simply unacceptable to squander a comfortable two-goal lead within five minutes.
The victory against Oldham followed a slow first half, but left us feeling optimistic. Hopeful about the tough run in of games we had ahead and provided our players with some much needed confidence. That confidence was diminished however when Chesterfield came to town on Tuesday. If we are to sustain any sort of run towards the end of the season and target those play off places, we need to respond and bounce back in the professional manner that we did against Oldham last Saturday.
Doncaster are one point behind us and will go into tonight looking to take advantage of City’s fatigue. In contrast to their opponents’ incredibly busy fixture period, Rovers have enjoyed 13 days without a game of football and have been able to rest up. One positive for the visitors is is that Filipe Morais is back in contention and can hopefully give us a much needed lift.
Certainty we supporters, downbeat after Tuesday, would like something to shout about. We don’t want the season to fizzle out from here, or for despondency to grow. Whether we make the play offs or not, let’s just remember how far we have come. Still a long distance to where we aspire to be, but a few steps forward nonetheless.
Let’s remember: Rome wasn’t built in a day. Phil Parkinson’s side wasn’t either.