Bradford City 3 Northampton Town 0: Cup kings triumph in League Two play-off final on return to Wembley to win promotion



Three months after their 5-0 defeat by Swansea City in the Capital One Cup final, Bradford City enjoyed a very different Wembley experience. They dominated the League Two play-off final to erase memories of that previous appearance under the arch and could even have won 5-0 themselves.

Players whose names became familiar during Bradford’s autumn and winter cup heroics, when they beat Wigan Athletic, Arsenal and Aston Villa, were the difference-makers again yesterday. James Hanson, Rory McArdle and Nakhi Wells, all of whom scored in the two-legged Capital One Cup semi-final against Villa, put Bradford 3-0 up by half-time and promotion was as good as wrapped up.

Victory represented Bradford’s first upward step since relegation from the Premier League in 2001, after which the only way was down. They have been in the third tier for six seasons, finishing no higher than this season’s seventh place, but average gates approaching 12,000, a squad that cost only £7,500 and the Capital One Cup revenue means that they are in the black and well-placed for further progress, especially if Phil Parkinson, the manager, agrees a new contract, as expected.

“Getting this club back to where it deserves to be is very important,” he said. “We have got a great core of players and we certainly need to add to it. And I’m ready to field phone calls for the players we have.”

Aidy Boothroyd, the Northampton manager, deserves recognition for the way he has transformed his team from relegation contenders last season to play-off finalists, but that achievement was little consolation. “A very good  season gone badly wrong at the end,” was his verdict. “I thought Bradford’s game here against Swansea might have worked against them – but it worked for them instead. They dealt with the whole day, the occasion and the game, better than we did.”

Bradford’s delivery from the wide positions caused Northampton problems throughout. After 15 minutes, James Meredith’s high ball from the left was chipped back across goal by Garry Thompson for Hanson to beat Clark Carlisle in the air and loop his header over Lee Nicholls.

After 19 minutes Bradford went 2-0 up with a remarkably similar goal. This time it was Kyel Reid’s cross from the left, returned by Nathan Doyle to the near post, where McArdle headed in. It was three after 28 minutes when Wells volleyed the ball home after Thompson’s header from Reid’s cross – his fourth goal against Northampton this season.

Nicholls was on hand to prevent Bradford reversing the Swansea score, tipping Reid’s close-range header over the bar and then clawing away an improvised effort from Hanson and, although Northampton introduced the heavyweight striker, Ade Akinfenwa, Doyle and Gary Jones, the Bradford captain, were in no mood to allow them back into the game.

“We got a bit of stage fright and a few were unrecognisable,” Boothroyd said. “We have to use it to our advantage, not sulk, bounce back quickly and that’s what we’ll try to do.”

Bradford (4-4-2): McLaughlin; Darby, McArdle, Davies,  Meredith; Thompson, Doyle (Ravenhill, 87), Jones, Reid  (Atkinson, 78); Hanson, Wells (Connell, 85).

Northampton (4-4-2): Nicholls; Tozer, Carlisle, Cameron,  Collins (Widdowson, 53); Hackett, Guttridge, Harding, Demontagnac (Hornby, 70); O’Donovan, Platt (Akinfenwa, 55).

Referee: Keith Stroud.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power