WITH a Yorkshire derby and a trip to the league leaders laying in wait, Bradford City are in for a tough week in their quest to rejoin the promotion race.
For assistant manager Steve Parkin, however, the prospect of taking on York City tomorrow and Port Vale on Tuesday is one that excites rather than intimidates.
“The league form has not been what we want it to be over the last few weeks,” said the Bantams assistant about a run that has now seen the club take just six points from a possible 27 since Boxing Day.
“Wembley (when City lost 5-0 to Swansea City in the Capital One Cup final) also took a bit out of the lads in terms of they felt it was the one game, the big one, where they didn’t show what the team is about.
“We were hoping to bounce back with a win against Dagenham (& Redbridge on Wednesday night) but had to settle for a 1-1 draw. But I thought we ran our socks off. I don’t think there was a hangover but we did need to put a shift in.
“Now, we need a performance away from home – similar to the one we had at Wycombe (when winning 3-0 on February 12).
“The next two games are a big test for us. But we have a good run-in, including games against a lot of the teams who are above us.
“There is plenty of football still to be played so let’s see what happens.”
City trail the play-off places by 10 points but have two, and in some cases three, games in hand on all but Rotherham of the teams that sit above them in the table.
Despite that, the Bantams need to quickly rediscover the winning habit or risk having simply too much ground to make up in the chase for the top seven.
The one consolation from the 1-1 draw with a Dagenham side who lost manager John Still 24 hours earlier to Luton was that Bradford kept going to the end.
James Hanson netted the equaliser with five minutes remaining and Nahki Wells had a shot cleared off the line in stoppage time.
Parkin added: “We were found wanting a little bit in front of goal but all you can ask is for the team to keep going to the end and that is what we did. The frustrating thing for us – and I don’t just mean the strikers – there were a lot of balls knocked into good areas and we needed to show that little bit more commitment to get on the end of them.
“We had a lot of corners and free-kicks and needed to make more use of them. Dagenham do deserve credit, though.
“In terms of their manager leaving, Dagenham were very committed and wanted to impress their new manager. But a point is a point and we have to move on to York very quickly.”