Bradford City haven’t enjoyed cup competitions up to this moment. Twice this season we’ve been picked away against opposition from the higher league. Twice we’ve lost. Twice it’s been to local rivals whose hold on the bragging rights has certainly not lessened (although we could bang on, and on, and on, about the injustice of the Paint Pot game at Leeds but we won’t (much)).
So, in the first round of the magical FA Cup who have we been picked against? Someone from the non-league, maybe Nicky Law’s Alfreton Town? Or someone from League Two, someone we’ve had the measure of, a nice visit from win-less Grimsby Town maybe? No, we’ve got the rampant MK Dons. In the land of the concrete cows.
Since Paul Ince’s stellar rise to the Premiership, Roberto Di Matteo has been steering the good ship MK and he’s been doing an impressive job. The Johnstone Paint Trophy holders are currently 4th in League One and set up for the back-to-back promotions that Lawn & Rhodes dream of at night. It’s going to be a difficult journey.
A journey made no easier by the fact that Stuart is seeing his squad stretched to the limits by a run of injuries. Midfield has been decimated in recent weeks as the long-term injured are joined by those suffering from niggles that will keep them out for a few weeks. A defence that has conceded too many goals is fit but Tom Clarke is denied a place by his paymasters. Up front Thorne will be rested but who knows who Stuart will pick.
Certainly this game is a magical one, it’s the FA Cup but it will be hard for Stuart McCall to really see it as winnable. Commitment is what the fans want, even if victory is beyond a side that will be reliant on the fringes of this much improved squad.
MK Dons Team News:
MK Dons have won three in a row, they’re 4th, it’s going to be a tough day at the office.
That’s all we really need to know about last year’s champions who twice beat us 2-1 last year.
Player to watch: Luke Chadwick
If he gets clearance from Norwich then the former Manchester United player could be a thorn in our side all afternoon.
I once travelled to Burnley during Nicky Law’s reign to see us lose 4-0. That result had a lot to do with Luke Chadwick’s contribution.
Hopefully Norwich don’t give permission…
Bradford City Team News:
In defence Tom Clarke is denied the opportunity to feature in the FA Cup so Matt Clarke is likely to return to the heart of the defence. Luke O’Brien will continue at left back although Paul Heckingbottom is returning to fitness. Mark Bower has also returned to training but with crucial games against Wycombe and Rotherham to follow it will be important not to risk him too soon.
Six midfielders are out and that’s a problem for Stuart but Omar returns from his suspension. Nicky Law may move into the middle to see one of Rory Boulding, Leon Osborne or Billy Topp play wide on the right. Luke Sharry may make his long awaited debut in the middle or Stuart might use some other youngsters to flesh things out.
Up front City’s first round hero (Peter Thorne’s goal beat Chester City) is likely to sit things out so Barry and Boulding might be the preferred strike partnership
Player to watch: Barry Conlon
Baz scored at the stadium:mk at the death with a penalty. He’s got 5 goals in 6 games, that’s some impressive form. Hopefully it’s the goalscoring machine who turns up and not the dying swan.