Bradford manager Phil Parkinson admitted his players had far exceeded his expectations after seeing them inflict more embarrassment on top-flight opposition with a stunning 3-1 win over Aston Villa in last night's Capital One Cup semi-final first leg.
Parkinson's npower League Two promotion-chasers, who upset Arsenal in a memorable penalty shootout triumph in the quarter-finals, edged closer to fulfilling a Wembley dream in front of another full house at Valley Parade and will defend a two-goal advantage in the return leg at Villa Park in two weeks' time.
Nahki Wells' clinical finish, several top-class saves from man-of-the-match Matt Duke and some glaring Villa misses ensured Bradford took a slender lead into half-time.
Rory McArdle headed the West Yorkshire club into an unlikely two-goal lead in the 77th minute and although Andreas Weimann got one back in the 82nd minute, Carl McHugh restored their two-goal lead two minutes from time.
"I was asked before the game on the TV, would we take a draw? I said 'yes'," Parkinson said. "Obviously we would have taken a draw.
"We didn't set out to get a draw, we actually set out to win the game, but if we had been going there with a draw it wouldn't have been the worse scenario in the world.
"To be going there two goals ahead is great. We said to the lads before the game that if Villa are going to get to Wembley we're going to really make them earn it."
A crowd of 22,245, swelled by Villa's 4,313 travelling fans, were treated to another thrilling cup upset.
"Without doubt the support was incredible," Parkinson said. "The way they backed the lads, they got that extra 10 or 15 per cent out of the players, you could visibly see it and it's so important playing against a team a few divisions above us with some great players."
But Parkinson, whose side also sent Wigan packing in the fourth round, refused to be swept away by the occasion, adding: "It was important we got the message across to the lads at the end of the game and equally be respectful to Villa because in two weeks' time we've got to go down to Villa Park and do it all again.
"We're absolutely delighted with the way we played, obviously, because from the first minute to the last the lads were tremendous. But equally we know we're only halfway there, we've got a very difficult job in a fortnight's time."
Villa manager Paul Lambert, whose side have won only one of their last seven league matches, was disappointed with his young players' defending, but insisted the tie was far from over.
"At any level of football, you can't defend set-plays like that and expect to win games of football," Lambert said.
"But we're still in the tie, absolutely. It will be a different game at Villa Park. We had lots of chances to score and we never took them, but it's only half-time.
"It will be a totally different game at Villa Park, but when chances come our way we have to take them.
"But you've got to give Bradford credit, they defended resolutely and their goalkeeper made some good saves."