Bradford triumph against odds

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The Independent Online
Blackpool 0 Bradford City 3 (Bradford win 3-2 on aggregate)

Bradford will go to Wembley for the first time in their history after an extraordinary comeback from a two-goal first-leg deficit in their play- off semi-final at Bloomfield Road last night.

Blackpool is the home of the outlandish and the fantastic, but it has seen few sporting turn-arounds to rival the way City pursued the unlikely vision of a place in the Second Division final.

It was as though Blackpool, with two recent appearances there, were dazzled by the prospect of going back to Wembley. The visitors were the more urgent in a scrappy first half, missing two good chances before Carl Shutt gave them the lead on the night five minutes before the break, scoring from close range after Blackpool failed to clear.

Blackpool hit the bar through Tony Ellis immediately afterwards, but the momentum was with the Yorkshire side, who drew level on aggregate midway through the second half. Andy Kiwomya beat Marvin Bryan to the byline and pulled the ball back for Hamilton to steer home.

Again Blackpool hit the bar, this time through Andy Preece, but they produced little else on a night dominated by Bradford's sheer dogged determination. "We knew it would come," the City manager, Chris Kamara, said. "We could have won by five."

Every objective bet on the ground would have been on City winning, in extra time if necessary. It was not needed, thanks to Mark Stallard who fired in 11 minutes from time after Blackpool had again failed to clear the ball.

The final whistle saw the two sets of supporters moving ominously towards each other on the pitch until police horses barred their way, and afterwards scores of Blackpool fans gathered outside the ground to bay for the head of manager Sam Allardyce.

Blackpool (4-1-3-2): Nixon; Bryan, Bradshaw, Linighan, Gouck (Philpott, 83); Morrison; Mellon, Bonner, Watson (Brown, 62); Ellis (Quinn, 75), Preece.

Bradford City (4-4-2): Gould; Husford, Mohan, Brightwell, Jacobs; Hamilton, Duxbury, Mitchell, Kiwomya; Shutt, Stallard. Substitutes not used: Ormondroyd, Jewell, Tolson.

Referee: W Burns (Scarborough).