The Bantams produced an excellent performance against a Millwall side struggling to find form at the moment. Phil Parkinson’s men were the better side from the first minute to the last and shortly after the visitors were reduced to ten men, James Hanson headed in the opener. Jon Stead slotted home from close range to double the lead and a rampant City added a third before the interval through Andy Halliday. Billy Knott fired in the fourth goal of the game just before the hour mark and the game continued to be comfortable for the home side who strolled into the fourth round to setup an away tie against Premier League table toppers Chelsea.
City made all the early groundwork in the game, really putting the Championship side on the back foot. Millwall were reduced to ten men after only five minutes when Mark Beevers was given a red card for bringing down James Hanson as he looked to race through, latching onto a long pass by Rory McArdle.
It didn’t take long for the Bantams to capitalise and it was James Hanson who found the opening goal. Andy Halliday’s corner was nodded down into the mix by McArdle and Hanson met the ball at the far post with a powerful header that beat David Forde, going in off the inside of the far post.
The game began to heat up and the referee James Adcock began brandishing yellow cards here and there for some feisty challenges that weren’t going unnoticed and shortly after Richard Chaplow had gone into the book for a reckless challenge on James Meredith, City doubled their lead. Millwall, despite the imposing aerial presence of Nigerian international defender Danny Shittu, weren’t coping with set-pieces and it was from a set-piece that they were undone once again.
Filipe Morais, who spent a season with Millwall back in 2006-07, was the man who delivered a free kick into the area; Andrew Davies headed the ball back across goal and Jon Stead was the quickest to react and sweep the ball past Forde for his sixth goal of the season for The Bantams.
After Alan Dunne had bundled James Hanson over the advertising hoardings unnecessarily, a melee seemed to come together surrounding the incident. The result once everything had settled down was that Dunne received a booking for the challenge, Billy Knott and David Forde were booked after a squaring up where Forde striking Knott in the face seemed to go unpunished, and the management duo of Phil Parkinson and Steve Parkin were sent to the stands.
In honesty, the visitors were being truly restricted to just half chance by the well organised back line of Bradford defence and after Lee Martin saw a tame 25 yard shot go wide of the target, former FC Halifax Town frontman Lee Gregory glanced a header wide of the target after Matthew Briggs had done well to keep the ball in play and dig out a cross.
City’s third goal arrived shortly before half time and it was Andy Halliday who got on the score sheet this time. Billy Knott did really well to keep the ball under pressure before picking out Morais to the right of him on the wing, Morais then delivered an accurate low cross into the danger zone and Halliday made no mistake in tapping home from close range.
The second half started at a frenetic pace with both sides looking to attack; City were in search of more goals sensing the weakness and the visitors had to throw everything at the cause to try desperately to get back into the tie.
The inevitable next goal did come and it was Billy Knott who scored it, a deserved reward for another energetic display in the middle of the park. The goal, in fairness, was a fantastic team goal. The ball was worked around nicely and then switched from right to left; Meredith had a shot towards goal which deflected off of Shittu and into the path of Knott who slammed the ball into the roof of the net from close range, leaving Forde with no chance.
Despite the four goal advantage already being in place, City still looked like a team in the ascendancy and almost got a fifth goal through Halliday. Again, it was a sharp passing move which opened up the opportunity to shoot and the Glaswegian midfielder hammered a shot from 20 yards which went a yard or so wide of the target.
Francois Zoko was given a good 20 minutes game time and it didn’t take him long to make an impact on proceedings, almost getting his first goal for the club. After receiving the ball on the left hand side, he only had Briggs to beat to get into the 18 yard box, and he did just that, beating him all ends up for pace, but the eventual finish, though it was a well-executed deft chip, the ball came back off the post.
A couple of minutes later and the Ivorian forward was in the thick of the action once again. Mark Yeates, introduced as a late substitution ghosted past Chaplow with ease before floating a cross into the area; Zoko met the delivery with a header but Forde watched it well and clung onto the ball.
Magaye Gueye, like he did in the original tie a week and a half ago, came off the bench and looked a lively player – the liveliest in the Millwall ranks. He was instrumental in creating a good chance for Gregory and after his early free kick was controlled well by the forward, his eventual cushioned volley went narrowly wide of Ben Williams’ near post.
Four goals was more than enough for The Bantams and the full time whistle confirmed a very comprehensive victory against Ian Holloway’s out of sorts’ side. The victory confirms that it will be Phil Parkinson and his team of players who will make the trip to Stamford Bridge a week on Saturday to take on the ‘special one’ Jose Mourinho and the likes of Eden Hazard, Diego Costa and Oscar. This is what the FA Cup is all about!