Phil Parkinson and Gary Johnson were two of the hottest names in football management just a couple of years ago yet now they find themselves facing each other in the bottom tier of the Football League this weekend. Parkinson is facing the same problems as his predecessors so far in trying to lift a ‘sleeping giant’ from its daze and needs the win just as much as Johnson does in a real six pointer at Valley Parade.
A run of just one win in eight has kept Bradford in trouble at the wrong end of the table with a 2-0 defeat at fellow strugglers Hereford last weekend meaning that they are only above the drop zone one goal difference.
The Cobblers followed up back to back wins with back to back defeats in the last few weeks with Crawley’s 1-0 victory at Sixfields followed by that 3-0 reverse at Port Vale last Friday night.
Phil Parkinson is hoping to have James Hanson back in his squad after the striker missed the last three games with a calf injury. Midfielder David Syers is still missing with knee ligament damage that has kept him out since August but he has returned to light training this week. Meanwhile, captain Michael Flynn is suspended following his red card in last weekend’s defeat at Hereford.
Bayo Akinfenwa is still missing with a fractured jaw for the Cobblers but new loan signing Saido Berahino could be in line for his debut for the Cobblers after signing on a month long deal on Thursday. Arron Davies is still likely to be missing while we’re still without long term absentees Byron Webster and Nana.
Robbie Threlfall made four appearances for the Cobblers on loan from Liverpool in 2009 before joining Bradford the following year. Threlfall impressed enough to earn a permanent deal after his release from Anfield.
Cobblers defender Ashley Westwood spent two years at Bradford, making 24 appearances and scoring twice between 1998 and 2000.
Last Six Meetings…
19/03/11: Bradford 1-1 Cobblers
Gary Johnson collected his first point in charge of the club at Bradford in this draw in March. Jake Speight had given the Bantams the lead with an early penalty but Shaun Harrad cancelled that out with a spot kick of his own on the hour mark. Jonathon Worthington was sent off in stoppage time for the hosts.
25/09/11: Cobblers 2-0 Bradford
Just a few days after the big win at Liverpool in last season’s Carling Cup, the Cobblers keep up the high spirits with a comfortable home victory. Billy McKay and Ben Tozer scored the goals at Sixfields.
01/05/10: Bradford 2-0 Cobblers
Bradford all but ended the Cobblers’ feint playoff hopes in our last away game of the 2009/10 season as a brace from Gareth Evans is enough to see us off. Dean Beckwith’s 37th minute red card didn’t help things!
03/10/09: Cobblers 2-2 Bradford
The Cobblers fell two goals behind in this entertaining contest in October 2009 thanks to goals from Simon Ramsden and Michael Boulding in quick succession. But substitute Alex Dyer pulled one back before John Johnson equalised in the final minute of the game.
17/03/07: Bradford 1-2 Cobblers
Billy Paynter gave the home side the lead in this relegation battle in League One but Bradley Johnson equalised just two minutes later. And with two minutes to go, Kenny Deuchar scored the winner to push the Cobblers ever closer to safety.
13/10/06: Cobblers 0-0 Bradford
Forgettable goalless draw at Sixfields as the Cobblers get to grips with League One football in their first season back in the third tier of English football.
The Man In The Middle…
Steve Rushton takes charge at Valley Parade on Saturday having last refereed a Cobblers game in the 1-1 home draw with Cheltenham Town back in January.
With plenty of anxiety hanging over both clubs going into the game it should be a tight affair with neither side wanting to make a mistake. There should be goals though and I’m going for a 2-2 draw.