The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE ONE PLAY-OFF SEMI-FINAL - By Chris Dunlavy

UWE Rosler has crit­i­cised the play-off sched­ule ahead of to­day’s crunch sec­ond­leg at High­bury, claim­ing it favours op­po­nents Brad­ford City.

Fleetwood fin­ished the reg­u­lar sea­son fourth in League One, three points ahead of Stu­art McCall’s Ban­tams.

Tra­di­tion­ally, the high­er­placed team is granted an ad­van­tage by play­ing the sec­ond leg at home – with stats prov­ing that sides fin­ish­ing in the top two spots are 20 per cent more likely to se­cure pro­mo­tion.

How­ever, Rosler says the quick turn­around and added mileage (Fleetwood made a re­turn jour­ney to Val­ley Pa­rade while Brad­ford will only travel in one di­rec­tion be­fore the sec­ond leg kicks off) is un­fair on his play­ers.


“My un­der­stand­ing is that the third and fourth place teams should have an ad­van­tage in the play-offs,” said the Ger­man, whose side trail 1-0 from the first leg.

“But that is not the case. The ad­van­tage is with Mill­wall and Brad­ford be­cause they have to travel only once. Our­selves and Scun­thorpe have to travel twice. Is that fair? For us, it is a big dis­ad­van­tage, es­pe­cially when you play twice in three days.

“What should they do? I don’t know. But, for a team that fin­ished lower than you over 46 games to have an ad­van­tage like this, it can’t be. It is non-foot­ball peo­ple mak­ing foot­ball de­ci­sions, un­for­tu­nately.”

Travel sick or not, to­day is about more than a shot at pro­mo­tion to the Champi- on­ship for Fleetwood. It may be a chance to change their man­ager’s mind.

It is an open se­cret that Rosler has been courted by Nor­wich City.

Stu­art Web­ber, the Ca­naries’ new sport­ing di­rec­story tor, is a long-time ad­mirer of the Ger­man’s work and lob­bied for his ap­point­ment at Hud­der­s­field be­fore David Wag­ner got the job.

Pub­licly, all links have been dis­missed. Last month, Rosler an­grily de­scribed the as “fake news” and de­nied any ap­proach had been made.

But the story re­fuses to go away and the Ca­naries’ fail­ure to re­place care­taker Alan Irvine amounts to a deaf­en­ing si­lence. It is widely be­lieved a gen­tle­man’s agree­ment, much like QPR’s pur­suit of Burton boss Jimmy Floyd Has­sel­baink, is in place.

Could pro­mo­tion stay Rosler’s hand? Maybe not, but it would be a fine part­ing gift to the High­bury faith­ful,

who have al­ready seen five pro­mo­tions in the last decade. For a shot at a sixth, the Cod Army will need to be­come the first side since Yeovil in 2013 to over­come a first-leg deficit.


“I don’t look at past stats,” in­sisted keeper Alex Cairns. “I look at us and I think we’ve got more than enough abil­ity in the team, as we’ve proven time and again this year. Our abil­ity to bounce back is un­be­liev­able.”

Lead­ing through Rory McAr­dle’s first-leg header, Brad­ford know an early goal would force Fleetwood to cut loose, po­ten­tially ex­pos­ing them on the break.

But skip­per Ro­main Vincelot, part of the Ban­tams side de­feated by Mill­wall at this stage last year, has ruled out a gung-ho ap­proach.

“It’s a 0-0 sit­u­a­tion, like nor­mal” said the French mid­fielder. “If we can put a lot of pres­sure on them we will do it, but we won’t go crazy. We won’t go kamikaze in at­tack and we won’t sit back to de­fend one goal for 90 min­utes. We just need to play the same way. There are a lot of play­ers who missed out last year and we all have this lit­tle thing in our bel­lies that we want to im­prove and go one bet­ter.

“Over the last four or five years, you can see the club is go­ing in the right di­rec­tion.

“We are build­ing some­thing here and this is an­other step. Hope­fully, we can com­plete it.”

HERO: Rory McAr­dle cel­e­brates

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

CRIT­I­CAL: Uwe Rosler has hit out at the play-off sched­ule AD­VAN­TAGE BAN­TAMS: Brad­ford’s Rory McAr­dle scores the only goal of the first leg

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