Bradford Prepare for Play-Off Final with Northampton

npower_league_2By Mark Rawlinson

It has been an incredible season for Bradford City and to win promotion to League One on Saturday afternoon would be the icing on the cake for Phil Parkinson’s side.

Remarkably, it is the League Two side’s second visit to Wembley this season after their astonishing run to the Capital One cup final back in March.

They were well beaten 5-0 that day by Premier League Swansea City and they will no doubt want to set the records straight by securing victory under the famous arch this time around.

Their march to that final was one of the biggest surprises in English football in recent times. After beating Notts County in the opening round, victories over Championship side Watford and Burton Albion followed before they beat Premier League strugglers Wigan Athletic on penalties to reach the Quarter-Finals.

Then came undoubtedly the biggest upset in domestic football this season when they defeated three-times Premier League champions Arsenal on penalties at Valley Parade.

The Bantams had yet more surprises up their sleeve as they dismissed another Premier league side, Aston Villa. City secured a 3-1 home victory and although they lost the second leg 2-1, the secured a first appearance at the new Wembley.

But they were unable to pull out another giant-killing and were well tamed by Michael Laudrup’s side. During the cup run, their league form took a beating as they tumbled out of the play-off spots.

However since the final, they have only lost twice in the league and secured the last play-off spot on the final day of the season.

A season like this has been long overdue for Bradford who have endured more than their fair share of infortune over the past decade.

The club reached their peak between 1999 and 2001 when they enjoyed two seasons in the Premier League but after finishing rock bottom in the latter season they were relegated back to Division One (the Championship).

Further disappointment followed in 2004 when they were relegated again to League One and then in 2007 they fell into League Two. Worse was to come as they flirted with relegation to the Conference for the past two seasons and were also at risk of losing their Valley Parade home due to unaffordable rent fees.

But these issues have been ironed out and the club are finally hoping to be back on the up but Northampton Town will be in no way an easy task to navigate on Saturday.

Aidy Boothroyd’s side finished the season in sixth and overcame Cheltenham Town in the play-offs to book their spot in the final.

The Cobblers are in the hunt for a return to League One football for the first time since 2009 when they were relegated but may be without the services of Clive Platt and defender Joe Widdowson.

They will look towards their talisman Adebayo Akinfenwa who has already netted 17 times for them this season.

The two sides have already met four times this season with Bradford winning their two league meetings and coming out on top in their FA Cup replay match after the first encounter was drawn.

Bradford City are favourites with most bookmakers with Stan James currently offering the best odds at 7/5. Outsiders Northampton are worth a punt with Bet365 currently holding the best price at 23/10.

For up-to-date-odds check the BritBets football odds comparison page HERE.