This season’s FA Cup may still be in its infancy but it has not stopped Bradford City fans dreaming of another inspiring run. Richard Sutcliffe reports.
THE parallels are clear for all to see.
If Bradford City can tomorrow see off Aldershot Town in an FA Cup first round replay, another non-League outfit awaits in the next stage.
It was exactly the same a year ago, when victories over FC Halifax Town and Dartford before Christmas paved the way for ‘that’ win at Chelsea.
No wonder Bantams fans are dreaming of another stirring run in this season’s competition and a further tilt at one of the big boys come the New Year.
As Bradford’s longest-serving player, however, striker James Hanson has a word of caution for those already looking ahead to a possible glamour tie in 2016.
“I was out injured when we played Dartford and Halifax,” said the 28-year-old to The Yorkshire Post ahead of the replay at Valley Parade.
“But I remember watching the Halifax game on TV and I thought we were a bit fortunate not to be 2-0 down at one stage. It took us a while to get going that day. If Halifax had scored that second goal, who knows might have happened?
“But the lads dug in and showed great character to win a derby game 2-1. We then approached Dartford in a professional manner and played really well. We could have won by six or seven. We will need the same attitude against Aldershot, as it was tough down there in the first game.
“We didn’t play well in the first half but we have another crack at it now in the replay.”
City’s recent form suggests complacency will not be a problem.
A thoroughly professional display against bottom club Crewe Alexandra at the weekend took the club’s unbeaten run to seven league games courtesy of a 2-0 win.
Hanson, with a tireless performance up front, played his part in the victory, even if he had little joy in front of goal as a succession of chances went begging.
He did not score in Bradford’s 4-2 win at Stamford Bridge in the Cup last season, either, but the value of his input in an unfamiliar role down the left flank was huge.
“Chelsea was unbelievable,” recalls Hanson. “It was the first time I have played left midfield for Bradford, I know that much. I enjoyed it. The entire team showed unbelievable discipline.
“Playing against world-class players, we had to make sure our shape was right. Even at 2-0 down, we didn’t panic. We sensed to be playing well, and that just two silly mistakes had cost us.
“We believed there was a way back into the game. Jonathan Stead’s goal was crucial. It changed everything, as coming just before half-time the goal gave us so much belief.
“There was a real confidence in the dressing room that we could do it. Then, in the second half – and I might be biased here – we pinned them in quite a lot. We played our away football, the way we like to play under the gaffer.
“We got corner after corner after corner. Shooting towards our massive following spurred us on and I felt we thoroughly deserved to win the second half 3-0.”
Hanson, who netted the goal that took Bradford to the 2013 League Cup final at the expense of Aston Villa, added: “That win at Chelsea was a bigger achievement than Villa, in my opinion.
“To go to Stamford Bridge against a team well on the way to becoming Premier League champions and score four goals was just incredible.”