Ban­tams bounc­ing as sea­son set to go on and on


The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO - By Aaron Bower

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.”


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