Bradford City are faltering. Apparently. That’s the conclusion the players think the fans have made as seen by Rhys Evans’ statement during the week that ‘I try and look at it in the sense that the cup is half full at the moment.’
Such comments come on the back of the club recording just one win in their last seven league outings, a sequence in which the Bantams have only scored 7 times, with 4 of those coming in just one match.
But yet we’re still 4th and, as clubs around us have hardly capitalised on their games in hand, well positioned to kick ahead.
But, and this is crucial, we’ve got some important games coming up. Bury at Gigg Lane on Tuesday is a six pointer; then a week later Darlington visit Valley Parade with a game with similar importance before a Valentine’s Day fixture with Wycombe.
But, on the flip side we’ve got games that, for a side wanting promotion, should be little more than a walk over. Grimsby stunned Wycombe and the entire footballing world last week but three points is a must and today’s game at bottom placed club Luton is one of those opportunities to impress.
Last weekend they were traumatically torn apart 5-1 by Darlington before bouncing back with a good, solid 0-0 performance at Brighton.
For both teams it will be interesting to see which side turns up. For the Hatters will it be the disarray of Darlington or the maturity of midweek? And, for the Bantams will it be a faltering, stuttering Saturday or will those doubts be put to bed?
Come 5 we’ll have a good idea!
Mick Harford, Luton boss, ‘The clean sheet at Brighton was a priority and it was a must we got that and, in terms of our attacking play, I thought we deserved a little bit more.
The next four games – three are at home and one is at Bournemouth. I’ve asked the players to win the three home games and keep clean sheet down at Bournemouth.
I try and get as many strikers on the pitch as I can. The shape dictates that. Bradford are an open attacking team.’
Luton Town Team News:
Luton Town boss Mick Harford has a bit of a headache after seeing a number of his ‘first choice’ players forced out of the midweek match through being cup tied yet.
So, does he restore them for the league or does he keep the faith?
Sam Parkin is likely to return to the starting line up after returning from his loan at Leyton Orient and will partner Paul McVeigh.
However, former Bantam opinion-splitter Lewis Emanuel has picked up a nasty injury that will keep him out for the foreseeable future.
Player to watch: Ian Roper
The veteran centre back looks set to return and will be tasked with frustrating the Bradford City strikers once again.
But it’s not just at the back that he’ll threaten, he’s already chipped in with 3 goals this season, and two of those game in the last 4 games.
Bradford City Team News:
Stuart McCall must be glad that 2009 is here and he can begin to welcome back his first choice squad to action.
However, despite coming through two reserve outings unscathed the most threatening absentee, Joe Colbeck, is probably going to have to make do with a spot on the bench.
At the back the Bantams are likely to be unchanged as they search for a fifth clean sheet in six. Rhys Evans will be in goal, hoping to organise his walls a bit better today with Luke O’Brien, Paul Arnison, Graeme Lee and Matt Clarke in front. Mark Bower is likely to be on the bench. Again.
In midfield Stuart has a serious headache. Omar Daley is almost certainly going to play but who will make up the other three is anyone’s guess. It could be the Paul McLaren, Nicky Law, Steve Jones trio although I would be disappointed if it were.
Personally I would rather see Dean Furman restored to the middle and Jonah sacrificed to allow Nicky Law to play on the right wing. Yes, Law has impressed in the middle but when we have scored and he’s played it’s often been from a Nicky Law delivered cross.
And that’s what you want a winger to do.
However, Lee Bullock must also be straining for inclusion and with an eye on Tuesday, Stuart will be glad to have options available to him although no word yet on Chris Brandon’s return to playing. Hopefully he’ll soon be on the verge of beginning his rehabilitation in the reserves.
Up front we’ll see two of Thorne, Boulding and Conlon start the match with the other on the bench with Chris O’Grady although maybe one day Rory Boulding will get a game!
Player to watch: Omar Daley
Today could be an afternoon where Omar puts a few inconsistent weeks behind him and looks like the player he was at the start of the season. His relationship with Luke O’Brien is blossoming and today he could be our match winner.
Match Facts & Stats
Earlier in the season the ten men of City almost pulled off a victory on the afternoon of Boogate when Barry silenced his critics with his first touch.
The Hatters equalised shortly afterwards in what has become something of a recurring nightmare!
Trevor Kettle takes charge.
Bury at Gigg Lane on Tuesday before Grimsby visit Valley Parade next week