At three o’clock last week the season began with buoyant optimism.
At five o’clock heads were bowed just a little.
Tuesday came. And with it the passion, the belief and the enjoyment returned. Peter Jackson’s men out-fought and out-played their lofty opponents for much of Tuesday evening.
Plaudits rained in, praise rang in the ears of the players and the supporters who weren’t at Elland Road knew they’d missed out on one of the great nights of Bradford City folklore.
But none of that matters come 3pm tomorrow. Eyes off the prized scalp of our neighbours and back on the main issue – the league.
And tomorrow’s game against Chris Wilder’s Oxford United will need the Bantams to have all their wits about them. Last year we fell 2-1 when two late goals undid a good first half during which David Syers had given us the lead.
Oxford come into the game, like us, off back to back defeats. And they also come into the game on the back of a plucky cup performance, taking Cardiff to extra time.
Both sets of fans will be hoping their side plays more like Tuesday than Saturday.
Speaking to the BBC, Bradford manager Peter Jackson says his team need to turn a performance like Tuesday’s into points. Listen to the whole piece here.
It was a common theme in Jackson’s thoughts this week as an interview with the Telegraph & Argus revealed. In discussion with Simon Parker he said ‘now they have to take that (level of performance) down to Oxford and not leave it here. They can`t just turn up and think we`ll be like the other night.’ Read the whole piece here, or buy today’s T&A.
Meanwhile one of Jacko’s newest recruits, goalkeeper Oscar Jansson has spoken of his desire to get some game time after having found himself at times 6th choice goalkeeper at White Hart Lane. Speaking to Simon Parker he said ‘I`ve reached the age where I need to play football week in, week out and that`s why this is such a good chance for me. I love playing and I`m happy to be doing that with a big club like Bradford’.
You can read the full article here.
Oxford United Team News:
Last time out Oxford played a 4-3-3 formation and eventually succumbed to two extra time goals against Cardiff City to lose 3-1.
After 120 minutes the players will certainly be pretty tired tomorrow but Wilder will be able to welcome back Paul McLaren into the fold.
Expect that former Bantam to receive a fair ribbing from the travelling support. Elsewhere on the pitch Wilder is without both Tony Capaldi and Tom Craddock.
The Oxford squad has gone through a significant restructure in the summer with Peter Leven (a one-time Stuart McCall trialee before he went to MK Dons), former Chelsea defender Michael Duberry, Andrew Whing, Deane Smalley and Jon-Paul Pittman all joining in the summer.
Like Bantams’ boss Peter Jackson Wilder has also been raiding the loan market with Lewis Guy arriving from MK Dons.
Player to watch: Jon-Paul Pittman
The Senegalese striker doesn’t score very often (4 goals last season) but he was withdrawn earlier than some of the others on Tuesday so might have that little spark of freshness.
Bradford City Team News:
Peter Jackson’s headache means that he is without the runaway favourite to take the Vital Bradford man of the match (you can still vote on the right) as well having to change his defensive backline around for the third game in a row.
Between the sticks Oscar Jansson is backing himself to retain the keepers’ jersey but Martin Hansen might have other ideas. In all this Jon McLaughlin, substitute on Tuesday, is biding his time and getting back to full fitness.
In defence Robbie Threlfall played a blinder on Tuesday which may quieten calls for a Luke O’Brien recall (although not from this quarter) whilst at right back Liam Moore will continue. In the middle Guy Branston, unbeatable in the air against Leeds, will probably be partnered by Luke Oliver whilst Lewis Hunt may make it onto the bench.
In midfield Saturday is unlikely to see a start for new arrival Martin Black (he played last night after all) but Jackson is likely to keep faith with the 4-5-1/4-3-3 we saw on Tuesday.
That means Mark Stewart and Jack Compton playing wide with Chris Mitchell, Michael Flynn and Ritchie Jones expected to deputise for the injured David Syers.
Up top James Hanson will lead the line.
The bench will likely be stocked with two from Ross Hannah, Nialle Rodney and Nakhi Wells.
Player to watch: Mark Stewart
Having not seen the game against Aldershot Tuesday was my first exposure to the 2011/12 Bantams and I was incredibly impressed by Mark Stewart’s contribution. He and James Hanson looked dangerous together and it’s only a matter of time before the net begins to bulge.
Tuesday night – Accrington Stanley (A)
Next Saturday – Dagenham & Redbridge (H)