Mills throws Dutch

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The Independent Online

Bradford City could afford to leave out their two most seasoned professionals, squander a penalty and still advance to the later stages of the Intertoto Cup with plenty to spare in Holland last night.

Bradford City could afford to leave out their two most seasoned professionals, squander a penalty and still advance to the later stages of the Intertoto Cup with plenty to spare in Holland last night.

Lee Mills scored the 81st-minute goal that embellished Bradford's 2-0 first-leg win, securing for the Yorkshire club a semi-final with Zenit St Petersburg, starting in Russia, on Wednesday. Thereafter looms the prospect of an intriguing final with Aston Villa and possibility of Uefa Cup qualification. If Bradford are pinching themselves following their narrow escape from relegation out of the Premiership last season, it is entirely understandable.

The goal that Mills tucked away from a shrewd through-pass by Dean Windass had the occupants of a dozen coachloads from Pennine country dancing on their seats in the Mandemakers Stadium. Windass thus atoned for depositing a 49th-minute penalty against an upright after David Wetherall had been bundled over by Waalwijk's Peter van den Berg when the players challenged for Lee Sharpe's free-kick.

Wetherall was, however, to finish the game far less content than Windass. He ricked his right ankle after 75 minutes, was stretchered off and is doubtful for Wednesday's tie. Wetherall and his new cohort in central defence, Peter Atherton signed from Sheffield Wednesday, were seldom required to withstand the kind of batterings that were a feature of Bradford's survival last season for, on a balmy evening, Waalwijk never promised the onslaught that was an absolute priority for them.

The unmarked John van Loenhout allowed a free header to skim off his brow in the 33rd minute but not until two of their late substitutes almost combined for an 80th-minute goal did Waalwijk seriously threaten again. Gary Walsh plunged full length to parry Iwan Redan's shot but Dejan Govedarica volleyed the rebound wide.

Walsh's fine save was matched by one from his opposite number, Rob van Dijk, when Sharpe burst on to a crossfield pass from Windass, but Bradford were still permitted to coast despite omitting both Stuart McCall and Dean Saunders, who will be needed to be at their peaks for the greater battles to come.

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