How Nahki Wells must enjoy playing against Northampton.
The Bermuda international’s opportunist winner, which lifted City into eighth place, two points off the play-off spots with a game in hand, was his sixth in five matches against third-placed Cobblers.
No wonder manager Phil Parkinson was delighted to see City’s leading scorer break his goal famine just as his team’s play-off challenge gathers pace; this was Wells’s first goal for two months.
The manager warned him, however, that he needed to continue to show his best form.
“Nahki is looking sharp again,” said the City chief, “and he has got his rewards for training well, but we have players on the bench champing at the bit and he has got to make sure he continues to produce his form.”
The uncompromising battle was settled in the 24th minute when goalkeeper Lee Nicholls failed to deal with Garry Thompson’s long pass and, as defender Nathan Cameron tried to head the ball out of play, Wells followed up to turn the ball into the net for his 19th goal of the season.
Bradford dominated the second half, but could not add a second as Nicholls made diving saves to deny winger Kyel Reid, and captain Gary Jones and James Hanson also wasted two chances.
City nearly paid the price, but Jon McLaughlin saved a goalbound shot from Ben Harding in the 74th minute as they struggled to clear a long throw from Ben Tozer.
Parkinson said: “We needed to be very strong and physical, but we knew we had the quality to create opportunities and I just thought the energy of the lads was terrific and the atmosphere inside the ground was great.”
Bradford City: McLaughlin, Darby, Davies, McArdle, Meredith, Thompson (Hines 72), Ravenhill, Jones, Reid, Hanson, Wells (Atkinson 90). Unused substitutes: Duke, McHugh, Connell, Nelson, Doyle.
Northampton Town: Nicholls, Johnson, Widdowson, Collins, Demontagnac (Robinson 34), Harding, Hackett, Tozer, Cameron (Afinfenwa 46), O’Donovan, Carlisle. Unused substitutes: Snedker, Guttridge, Platt, Hornby, Dias.
Referee: T Kettle (Maidenhead).
Man of the match: Andrew Davies.