Date: 2nd November 2017 at 10:18am
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Chesterfield have a miserly 9 points from a possible 48 having only won 3 times with 13 losses from 19 games in 2017/18, with 1 of those wins coming in the English Football League trophy. Bottom of the 4th division and are the worst team in the entire professional English game with 1 home win and 1 on the road in the league to boast about this season. So to face this appallingly abysmal team at home we could easily win even with resting our under 10 side and what a great opportunity to get through to the 2nd round.

But don’t let my deliberate falsely luring opening paragraph fool anyone. This is the FA Cup! The Spireites may be struggling this season, we may have already beaten them at their ground with both fielding a weakened side, but they have 1 destructive weapon in their arsenal, Kristian Dennis. Read on.

In the words of Shirley Crabtree……EASY
The Bantams will be the Big Daddy this weekend, we are better in every aspect, we are in a higher division, we boast more supporters, better quality players and manager, more wins and we can get a better curry. Our squad has the likes of Charlie Wyke, Matt Kilgallon, Dominic Poleon is pushing to come back and we’ve already beaten Chesterfield this season with a 2nd string team. although we haven’t been playing well for a while, we are grinding out wins against in form 3rd division clubs, we are winning games, scoring, so a team that are propping up the bottom division below should in all honesty be easy pickings especially having home advantage.

When it comes to it, this is the sweet FA Cup.
I have deliberately berated Chesterfield thus far, making the preview so one sided to show what an easy tie this is, in fact a little too easy, well at least on paper, now read why Chesterfield can cause an upset. Kristian Dennis has scored 10 goals in 18 games this season, and to do that with a team at the very bottom of the division is mightily impressive. Dennis has scored in 4 of his last 5 games, scored against the Bantams already in the trophy, even scoring in the away game at Sheffield Wednesday in the league cup. If Dennis is playing on Saturday, Chesterfield have a chance to actually nick the game, especially with how poor the home defence is this season, so before you do your accumulator this weekend, I really would suggest avoid this fixture, it isn’t as clear cut as you might think. McCall has an absolutely horrible record in cup competitions and if I am honest, this tie has all the hall markings of an upset, especially against a manager with a terrible cup record.

Is McCall really that bad in cup competitions?
Let’s overlook the Football League trophy which McCall if fair actually does quite well in. but to answer the question………Yes!!! Let’s check out his record in the English game in cup competitions.

2007
League Cup 1st round away to Wolves
FA Cup 2nd round home to Tranmere Rovers

2008
League Cup 1st round away to Huddersfield Town
FA Cup 2nd round home to Leyton Orient

2009
League Cup 1st round away to Nottingham Forest
FA Cup 1st round away to Nottingham County

2016
League Cup 1st round away to Accrington Stanley
FA Cup 1st round home to Accrington Stanley

2017
League Cup 1st round home to Doncaster Rovers

So out of 11 cup games, McCall has won 2 games over 2 spells as Bradford City manager and you can’t use the excuse we played some good teams, or that it was purely unlucky draws every year. Now on paper this weekend doesn’t look so one sided and the reality is, with our current manager and defence, Chesterfield have a great opportunity to cause one of the biggest upsets of the round, but if the Spireites do win come Saturday afternoon, would it actually be an upset to anyone that knows a couple of facts and stats? Maybe we have been spoiled by McCall’s predecessor with all the cup runs beating 25% of the Premiership on equal terms, getting to a cup final, but past results don’t lie. But surely, McCall will get us through to the 2nd round and will be confident we can win this game 3-1 looking forward to the draw for the next round? I am sure 80% of Bantams will be confident in a win at kick off and expectations in and outside the ground will be high. I was negative about our opponents at the start giving them no chance, as anyone looking at the tables will unfairly do this week, but am I the only person in the country giving the Spireites an outside chance of making it into the hat for the next round?

Head to head and form
97 games
46 Bradford City wins
23 Chesterfield wins
28 draws

Oh yes, we definitely have this one in the bag and we have actually beaten the Spireites in our last 5 meetings, including the 2-4 win in the Football League Trophy earlier this season at the Proact Stadium. For the last 2 seasons we got the double over the Derbyshire club and the last FA Cup meeting was back during 1975/76 at Valley Parade, an encounter City won 1-0. The last fixture at Valley Parade was January 2017 in League 1, a 2-0 win for the Bantams thanks to Mark Marshall and Jordy Hiwula-Mayifuila.

Bradford City last 6 WWLDLW
Chesterfield last 6 DLWLLW
Bradford City last 6 home WLDWLW
Chesterfield last 6 away LWLWLD

History, form and stats are definitely on the side of the Bantams, and if we are focused, play like we can, we should easily win the game on Saturday by a couple of goals, maybe conceding at some stage to add to the encounter. Chesterfield have lost 7 of their last 10 games and if things continue as they are, some fans will already be looking forward to none league football next season and get 2017/18 out of the way. But as we know, the FA Cup always spring surprises, always has done and always will do. We can’t really grumble as we have witnessed some magnificent upsets in our favour of recent years, but something tells me, we won’t have it all our way on Saturday, even if we manage a win. But surely McCall can guide us through what is on paper, a very easy game, after all he has shown his calibre as a pretty decent tactician over the past few years and Lester is still very wet behind the ears.

Boz’s match verdict: Away Win

5 Fun Facts

1. The last time we played Chesterfield in the FA Cup was back in November 1975, coincidentally at Valley Parade in the first round just as this coming weekend. That narrow 1-0 win took City on their best FA Cup run in 50 years losing to eventual winners Southampton in the quarter finals.

2. Talking of FA Cup runs, when we played and beat Chelsea in 2015, the Blues would go on to lose only 4 games from 54 throughout that entire season, 3 of those games were away and their sole loss at home in every competition was against the Bantams even though going 2-0 up. City went on to score 4 unanswered goals making it 2-4 and reached their first FA Cup quarter final since 1976. Chesterfield had their own cup run in the 1996/97 season losing the semi final replay against Middlesbrough 3-0. Chesterfield went 2-0 up but at the final whistle the score 3-3 forcing the replay. Boro went on to lose against Chelsea.

3. Chesterfield manager, Jack Lester is Stuart McCall’s ex team mate at Sheffield United and played together back in the 2003/04 season. They featured in 31 games together so the 2 managers should know a little bit about each other.

4. Jack Lester has only recently been made manager of the Spireites, but he is a familiar face at the Proact having played 219 games and scoring 94 goals between 2007-2013. Bradford City denied a win in Lester’s penultimate game at the Proact back in April 2013, the game ending 2-2. This was the last game he failed to win in the football league as a player. He had 1 more game after that fixture, a 4-0 victory over Exeter.

5. Referring back to the 2003/04 season when McCall and Lester were team mates at Sheffield United. Did you know that the last ever away goal McCall scored as a professional footballer for any team was actually against Bradford City. Even though the Blades went a goal down thanks to Dean Windass, they came out on top at Valley Parade 1-2 winners thanks to McCall’s winner. Jack Lester was on the bench that day and didn’t feature. Both players got the double over the Bantams that year with Lester scoring his last Blades home goal against the Bantams in a 2-0 win at Bramall Lane, a game where both managers started.

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