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Match Reports

Burton Albion 1 Bradford City 3

5 May 2013

Burton Albion 1 Bradford City 3

The Bantams sealed a return to Wembley Stadium with a stunning performance at the Pirelli Stadium. 

Heading into the game a goal behind following their 3-2 defeat days earlier and coming up against the side with the best current home form in the country, City produced exactly what was needed to turn the tie on its head. Nahki Wells opened the scoring in the first half with a predatory finish and James Hanson struck the second early on the second half. Jacques Maghoma responded from the spot but Wells responded immediately with his second goal of the game.


Realistically, City had to score the first goal to give themselves a fighting chance of going through but it was the hosts who came close to the opener within the first minute. Jacques Maghoma cut inside from the right hand side ahead of Andrew Davies and hammered a low shot narrowly wide from the edge of the area.


Burton were starting the game as the brighter of the two teams and came close once again, this time through Thursday's star man Calvin Zola. Alex MacDonald's long throw into the area was allowed to bounce in the area by City's back line and Zola pounced to fire a shot wide of the mark on the turn.


The Bantams went forward for the first time with real intent through Garry Thompson a few minutes later before picking out Kyel Reid with a pass infield. Reid however, chose to try his luck with a speculative shot from long range on his weaker right foot and his effort came nowhere close to goal and sailed well over the bar.


City were very much in the game but Burton remained ever so slightly on the front foot and came close to opening the scoring twice in quick succession but were denied each time by Jon McLaughlin. Alex MacDonald's corner was met by a powerful header from Robbie Weir which was held alertly by the City stopper. Damien McCrory then tested McLaughlin with a dipping freekick that beat the wall but couldn't beat McLaughlin as the score remained goalless.


Against the run of play The Bantams took the lead to level the tie on aggregate. Marcus Holness attempted to head the ball back towards Stuart Tomlinson in the Burton goal and Wells pounced to intercept and slot the ball confidently through the legs of Tomlinson to send the 1,700 away fans into eruption.


The goal seemed to take the sting out of Burton's general play and their decent start to the game as City took the upper hand. Despite this, the hosts still came close to levelling the game leading up to half time. Calvin Zola's knock down fell invitingly to Robbie Weir who stung the palms of Jon McLaughlin with a firm half volley from the edge of the area.


The game was as evenly poised as it possibly could be but The Bantams looked far more confident following Nahki Wells' first half strike and they doubled their lead five minutes into the second half. Under pressure from Wells, Ian Sharps had his attempted clearance charged down and the ball bounced kindly into the path of James Hanson who rifled a top class finish beyond Tomlinson and into the bottom corner.


City had gained the lead for the first time in the whole tie but their joy was short lived as Burton were to level the aggregate scoreline merely five minutes later. Jacques Maghoma decided to go on one of his trademark runs forward and he was brought down by Garry Thompson. Referee Graham Scott awarded a penalty kick despite replays later showing that not only was the incident debatably outside the area, Thompson didn't in fact make contact with Maghoma.


It was Maghoma who stepped up to take the resultant spot kick and he confidently planted the ball past McLaughlin despite the stopper's best efforts to keep it out. Albion were very much back in the game and it was now a question of whether they would turn the game around or whether City would continue to look sharp and dominant. The latter was to occur as The Bantams doubled their advantage in the game to go ahead on aggregate once more.


A couple of minutes after Maghoma's goal a long ball was punted forward and James Hanson knocked the ball down into the path of Nahki Wells who held off his marker and turned to fire a snapshot beyond the weak parry of Tomlinson to send the travelling support crazy yet again. 


As it stood City were heading to Wembley again but there was still a lot of work to be done in the final half an hour of the game. Burton almost produced an ideal response five minutes after Wells' second goal when the ball dropped kindly to Alex MacDonald after McLaughlin could only punch the ball half clear under pressure from Zola. MacDonald however, could only watch his shot bounce marginally wide of the target.


The hosts were being very much restricted in terms of options going forward due to the sturdiness of City's defence on the day and even the likes of Jacques Maghoma had to resort to shooting from distance as he did in the 70th minute but his firm attempt wasn't too much of a problem for Jon McLaughlin.


Gary Rowett's men had to go for the jugular as time ticked on but this was leaving them vulnerable at the back and City almost capitalised when Wells raced away before producing a clever cross towards James Hanson. The ball evaded Hanson and Atkinson's attempted cut back was blocked behind for a corner. Massive appeals for handball sounded from the sea of claret and amber behind the goal but the referee wasn't interested and waved them away.


Man of the Match Nahki Wells was proving virtually unplayable throughout the contest and he was at the heart of the action once again. After racing into space he cut inside the challenge of Damien McCrory before unleashing a shot that deflected into the path of James Hanson. Unmarked in the area, Hanson would surely put the game beyond all doubt with a fourth City goal of the game but he blazed over the bar with the goal barely guarded.


Burton players and fans alike were becoming desperate for anything to prolong their time in the play-offs and Alex MacDonald had the last roll of the dice when he stepped up to take a free kick in the fourth minute of the six additional minutes at the end of the ninety. MacDonald however, could only manage to curl his attempt a yard or so wide of the target much to the joy of City and frustration of Albion.


The full time whistle sparked wild celebrations from Bradford fans, players and coaching staff in the dugouts as the away end erupted. The Bantams had come back against the odds to secure a return to the national stadium on the 18th May and a chance of promotion back to League One after a six year absence. Wembley awaits!



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