Bantams bouncing as season set to go on and on
BRADFORD......1 BURTON A........0 HANSON WITH KEY STRIKE
JAMES Hanson’s first-half strike ensured League Cup finalists Bradford a place in the play-offs – and wasn’t Bantams boss Phil Parkinson made up about it.
Hanson struck the only goal of the game a minute before halftime as Bradford welcomed Burton to Valley Parade and made certain a top-seven finish.
With one game of the regular season left Bradford have a four-point cushion over eighthplaced Chesterfield with boss Parkinson a relieved man.
“I’m so pleased to get it done and dusted,” he said. “I didn’t expect it because you’ve always got to have your mind set for the last game of the season.
“But it gives us the chance to rest players who are struggling a little bit and recharge the batteries. Last games of the season can tend to be edgy, and it’s nice we’re not involved with that furore.
“It’s good that we can enjoy the build-up.We were ten points behind not so long ago, and the lads have got to take the credit for it.
“It’s down to sheer hard work, determination and the professionalism of the players has been superb.”
The early periods of this promotion encounter lacked an edge of quality, but Burton winger Jacques Maghoma almost provided with a mazy run unchallenged into the box although Jon McLaughlin was on hand to provide a fine save. However, just minutes later at the other end, Bradford took the lead with a calamitous goal.
When goalkeeper Dean Lyness refused to come and collect a bouncing ball, Burton’s inability to clear the danger gave Hanson a chance he didn’t pass up; the big striker looping the ball over Ian Sharps on the line to make it 1-0.
That was just a prelude to a nightmare few minutes for the visitors, as right on the half-time whistle Brewers captain Lee Bell was dismissed for an elbow on Hines to leave Gary Rowett’s side in all sorts of trouble at the break.
Burton came out for the second period positively, and Sharps was again making a nuisance of himself in the box, this time prodding over from close range.
Zavon Hines really should have killed the game off as the final minutes approached, but thankfully for the Bantams fans, they hung on and can now concentrate on the play-offs.
Burton look set to join them there but boss Rowett refused to be downbeat on his side after they lost Bell so early in the game.
“In certain ways it was a bad day; we had a crazy few minutes of madness that cost us the game,” he said.“The goal was a crazy one to concede on our behalf, and Lee’s sending-off was silly to be honest. But they didn’t cause us too many problems, and in some ways it was as well as we’ve played away from home in a long, long time.
“We had a couple of moments where we came close in attack, and we played pretty well throughout overall.”