SINCE calling together his Bradford City squad for an impromptu meeting in late September to thrash out what was going wrong, Phil Parkinson has received the required response.
Not only have the Bantams gone seven games unbeaten in the league but the FA Cup first round replay victory over Aldershot Town on Wednesday night brought a new joint club record of five consecutive clean sheets.
That latter milestone was last reached in 1954 and Tony McMahon is adamant that the seeds of the recent upturn in fortunes at Valley Parade lay in the get together that followed back-to-back losses against Peterborough United and Colchester United.
“We had a chat after the couple of defeats and everyone knew what needed doing to put it right,” said the 29-year-old, who netted his first goal in a little over seven months as plucky non-Leaguers Aldershot were dispatched.
“The manager put it over to us and we came up with the answers. Since that meeting, we haven’t looked back. This is an excellent group. Lots of experience at a good level.
“Now, we just want the next game to come round. Confidence is sky-high among the lads and the five clean sheets have been massive. They have helped us have a foothold in games, even when really tight like they have been lately.”
McMahon’s first strike since early April came from the penalty spot with 15 minutes remaining. Earlier, Greg Leigh had given the Bantams a vital lead with a quite wonderful strike, the left-back controlling a fine pass from Billy Knott before dinking a shot over goalkeeper Phil Smith.
The quality of the goal, however, did not prevent Leigh from being on the end of some good-natured ribbing from his team-mates.
“We weren’t sure afterwards if he meant it,” laughed McMahon. “We gave him a bit of stick, saying he might have panicked and tried to chip it to the back post. No, seriously, it was a great finish.
“As for mine, it was the first I have scored in a while. I will probably have to work on my celebration. My son said before the game I would score and he wanted me to do a Gareth Bale celebration (where the Real Madrid star holds his hands up in a heart shape).
“I made a bit of a mess of it. But I gave it a go and he was buzzing watching on television.”