By Dhriti Ahir
The buzz around the ground was electric; everyone jumping, clapping and the smiles on everyone’s faces. The return of Stephen Darby brought the fans together and the players put in a performance to make everyone happy. David Ball, one of the scorers, said in a post-match interview that he dedicated his first goal to Stephen; of course a legend at the club but also a close friend of his.
Bradford City’s last home league game, a 2-0 win over Oxford United, brought some life back into the club. Over 19,000 people shared that jubilant feeling from the two goals, and it lifted everyone’s spirits and hope for the season to come. Towards the end of the game, players were getting recognised for their contribution to the club by fans chanting their name. This shows that the players are connecting more to their fans, and it gives them a greater sense of belief before the new year rolls over.
It’s been a mixed picture on the road since then. Most people associated with Bradford City had a gut feeling that we were going to do well against Luton on the following Tuesday, but it didn’t turn out that way. Luton are strong at the front and flying high in the league so far. To think they were a team promoted last season, now in the top two of the League One table, this shows they will be strong promotion contenders when May comes.
We then had the second round of the FA Cup against Peterborough, a team we had recently played against. After trailing 2-0 until the 82nd minute, we as City fans thought it was over, but goals from Kelvin Mellor and Luca Colville kept us into the hat for the third round draw.
Last Saturday’s game at Plymouth became a vital clash between two of the bottom sides. We as Bradford City fans had hoped that we would come out on top and with an early Jack Payne goal gave the 200+ travelling fans, and everyone listening on the radio, hope that of all three points. In a topsy-turvy game, Plymouth kept fighting back and equalised three times.
For me it was a great game to listen on the radio, but the only negative was not seeing us get the win. Still, it shows that we are capable of scoring in front of goal away from home.
That set up a third meeting in a matter of weeks against Peterborough. I went to the FA Cup replay on Tuesday to see not just the game but to enjoy the home support. Over 3,000 came out to Valley Parade on a cold, chilly, wintery night in December. We as the fans had to get behind the lads and be the 12th man.
The match kicked off and the players were ready as you could tell on their faces. Two quick goals from Peterborough by Ivan Toney, formerly of Scunthorpe, Wigan, Shrewsbury and Barnsley, gave us a mountain to climb. Two minutes after Toney’s second, George Miller’s tap in put us back into it and gave us belief.
By half time we were 3-1 down, how could we get back from this? We did, and I don’t think any of the travelling Peterborough fans or their players expected it. They were three amazing goals from David Ball, Paul Caddis and another for George Miller.
Before full time we were leading 4-3 and somehow Toney managed to get his hat trick which made the match go into extra time. After many chances later, extra time was over and it was time for penalties. Our takers were Eoin Doyle who scored, Karl Henry who missed, Lewis O’Brien who scored, Jack Payne who missed and Paul Caddis who also missed. Ben Wilson managed to save Ivan Toney’s penalty but failed to keep the others out.
This game against Peterborough has showed that we are capable of going on the attack but we need to stop conceding goals. Now we focus on the league and progressing up the table.
There are battles ahead. We as club have to stick together with the players and the management and everyone who is associated with club.
I believe things will change during the transfer window, as it is a chance for David Hopkin to get players that he believes will change the way City perform. Recently getting the likes of Karl Henry and Paul Caddis shows some development in the types of players he wants, and they’re helping to encourage the team to progress in this league.
So I hope that every Bradford City fan who reads this will be ready for today’s game with their voices backing the Bantams and making a difference!