Alex Jones on a mission to deliver automatic promotion to Bradford City

Alex Jones for Bradford.
Alex Jones for Bradford.
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BRADFORD CITY striker Alex Jones will be shooting from the hip as he sets sights on a double target.

With 10 games to go, Jones aims to fire the Bantams into an automatic promotion slot and break the 20-goal barrier.

That is despite missing around nine weeks of the season with a hip injury.

The forward signed from Birmingham City in January after a goal-scoring loan spell at Port Vale, was credited with the strike which gave Bradford victory after four successive draws and stretched their unbeaten home record to a club record 27.

It not only cemented their play-off position but raised hopes of going straight up.

All their challengers have at least one game in hand on the Bantams, who are five points shy of the top two and enjoy the same buffer over seventh-placed club Southend.

Though City were not at their best against a side whose own hopes of a top-six spot are fading, the fact that they kept a clean sheet for the first time since January 7 was a major plus.

So, too, was the fact that manager Stuart McCall was able to pair Jones and deadline-day buy from Carlisle Charlie Wyke in the starting line-up for the first time, even though they were like duelling banjos with their after-match Tweets banter about the goal.

Referee Brett Huxtable settled matters when he confirmed he had awarded the 24th-minute winner to Jones, following an almighty scramble, which even had full-back James Meredith claiming the glory.

It came after goalkeeper Luke McGee had failed to hold a low drive from winger Mark Marshall, back to the starting line-up after hamstring trouble.

Even Jones was somewhat confused as he explained what happened.

“I just said to the lads that they all count and it doesn’t matter how they go in. At the end of the season, it will just be a tally showing how many I scored but the most important thing was that it was a big three points for the team.

“I couldn’t really tell you what happened but the goalie parried it straight at my chest and I think it hit the bar and then I think my head or chest knocked it over the line, though I will have to see it again.

“I think I put it over the line, then James Meredith put it over the line and then Charlie Wyke put it over the line – all three of us ended up scoring one goal!

“Me and Charlie were winding each other up and putting it out on Twitter but he has scored enough this season (22, including four for City) and needs to share them out, to be fair.”

Of their partnership, Jones continued: “I enjoyed playing alongside him. He’s a big, strong lad and I know nine times out of 10 he is going to win the flick-ons or hold it up so it is easier to make movement around him and I really enjoyed it.

“His aerial strength will be important at this stage of the season with pitches not at their best, definitely. You have to play the conditions especially when they are lively and bouncy.

“Look at Peterborough, their ball-playing midfielders didn’t play today because they knew the conditions were going to be a little bit more difficult but it was the same for us and you have to get on with it and adapt your game and play a few more balls into the channels, turn them and put them under pressure.”

Jones, who replaced Billy Clarke as McCall correctly assessed Posh would not leave a space for him to play behind a lone striker, said City’s and his own ambitions do not rest on a play-off final at Wembley.

“We are definitely thinking of automatic promotion. I don’t see why not until it is mathematically impossible. That has got to be the aim for all the lads and the staff.

“We want to chase down those top two places. There are 30 points to play for and there is no reason why we can’t go on a great winning run and get into the top two.

“My hip felt perfectly fine and I came through the game well. That’s great news for me personally. I just need to get as fit as I can now and get back into the team.

“It was a weird injury. I tore a bit of cartilage in it and don’t even remember doing anything. I told the physios it was a bit sore and went for a scan and there was a little tear which has settled down and is perfect now.

“Regarding a goals target, every striker will say 20 and that’s my aim, really. I am on 12 now so eight more to go and I want to go on and get that.

“That would be really satisfying because I have missed around nine weeks of the season and if I hadn’t I think I would have already gone past it. So if I can still achieve that after missing two months of the season I will be delighted.”

Bradford City: Doyle; McMahon, McArdle, Knight-Percival, Meredith; Gilliead, Vincelot, Cullen, Marhsall (Dieng 81); Jones (Hiwula 63), Wyke. Unused substitutes: Sattelmaier, Toner, Penney, Devine.

Peterborough United: McGee, Smith, Bostwick, Tafazolli, Hughes; Taylor (Morais 76), Forrester, Grant (Inman 69), Maddison; Mackail-Smith, Nichols (Samuelsen 74). Unused substitutes: Tyler, Lopes, Anderson, Binnom-Williams.

Referee: B Huxtable (North Devon).