No reason to desert plucky Bantams now
Let’s hope that Bradford City, having already knocked Chelsea and Sunderland out of this season’s FA Cup, don’t think Championship side Reading are going to be an easy touch at Valley Parade.
City boss Phil Parkinson has already shown himself to be the man for the big occasion.
He has already taken Bradford to Wembley twice in one season, instilling the resolve to win the League Two play-off final following defeat to Swansea City in the Capital One Cup final in 2013, and his team is still battling for honours on two fronts this season with the Bantams in with every chance of a play-off place in League One.
His side has a nice blend of youth and experience with former Sunderland reject Jon Stead reveling in the spotlight during their cup run.
The striker is on loan from neighbours Huddersfield Town and will probably be looking for a new club in the summer – City fans would probably carry him to Valley Parade as he achieved instant legendary status in their epic victory at Stamford Bridge and can be a real handful for defenders when in the mood.
Stead – along with Billy Clarke, Billy Knott and Alan Sheehan – started Tuesday’s game against Crawley on the bench but his side still picked up maximum points thanks to an early goal from Francois Zoko.
All are likely to play against Reading but the Bantams come into this quarter-final off the back of a busy schedule and there have been a few signs of fatigue lately – the Royals have the ability to punish their hosts if given chances.
It’s not been an easy start for Steve Clarke since he replaced Nigel Adkins. But a Wembley appearance would go a long way to rescuing a disappointing campaign and Jamie Mackie’s late equaliser at Bolton during the week will have lifted spirits after back-to-back defeats.
Reading won at Derby in the last round and are clearly no mugs but, despite having forwards like Simon Cox, Pavel Pogrebnyak and Hal Robson-Kanu in their squad, they generally find goals hard to come by.
They’ve already lost nine times on the road in the Championship this season and will almost certainly need to score more than once if they are to make it through to the semi-finals at the first attempt.
Bradford are renowned cup fighters and the state of the Valley Parade pitch will level any slight difference in class so City are fancied to add Reading’s scalp to their already impressive haul at 31/20. A 2-1 correct score is priced up at 8/1.
The Sixth Round FA Cup match kicks off at 12.45pm on Saturday, March 7 at Valley Parade.