The only consolation for Bradford City is that Swansea City will play on the floor. In their last game before next Sunday's Capital One Cup final, Bradford were beaten by the aerial assault of the team at the bottom of the League.
Bradford were 1-0 up with seven minutes to go and anticipating the perfect preparation for Sunday. But Wimbledon's high-ball approach, fiercer and faster as the game went on, eventually told and won them this League Two game.
The football, as with the pitch and so much else, was almost as different as possible from what Bradford will find at Wembley. On the patchy, sandy turf at the Cherry Red Records Fans' Stadium, the visiting side played commendably well. But the glistening pitch, 90,000 fans and the futuristic keep-ball of Michael Laudrup's side were some way away.
As well as the thrill of the occasion, the Bradford manager, Phil Parkinson, is rather looking forward to a better platform on which to play football. "Obviously the pitch was poor today for both teams and Wimbledon concentrated on set-plays," Parkinson said. "I thought we played some good stuff on a very difficult surface. Apparently they hadn't had any equipment to do any maintenance work on the pitch."
The first half had almost nothing to commend it, a cold scrap between Bradford's scurrying approach and Wimbledon's long balls. But as the game went on, Bradford's Gary Jones, the best player on the pitch, started to impose himself, while Kyel Reid was a constant threat outside him.
City were on top and took the lead when Gary Thompson volleyed in from Alan Bennett's soft back-header – a gift Chico Flores and Ashley Williams will not provide.
That should have been that. Bradford had chances to go 2-0 up, but Wimbledon equalised when Jack Midson bundled in from a long ball into the area. Then, in the third minute of added time, Gary Alexander header in Toby Ajala's corner.
Bradford should have won, but Parkinson would not blame cup distraction. "I don't think that showed," he said. "I think we were excellent all round, I couldn't fault the lads."
The frustration was obvious but it will not last for long. "We've got a great week ahead of us. The lads deserve it, they've worked exceptionally hard to get to this stage. It's obviously on your mind. Everyone is talking about it. It's going to be a great day for the city of Bradford and we're going to enjoy it."
AFC Wimbledon (4-1-4-1): Sullivan; Mitchell-King (Balkestein, 64), Meades, Bennett, Hussey; Sweeney; Ajala, S Moore (Midson, 60), Pell, Yussuff (Sainte-Luce, 64); Alexander.
Bradford (4-4-1-1): Duke; Darby, Nelson, Davies, Dickson; Atkinson, Jones, Doyle, Reid (Wells, 85); Gray (Hanson, 65); Thompson.
Referee Steve Bratt.Reuse content