TWO wins, play-offs assured. It is a simple formula and one Phil Parkinson has been preaching to his Bradford City players ahead of a testing double-header to finish the campaign.
The Bantams sit seventh in the League Two table and know that victory today together with Exeter City losing at home to Cheltenham Town would be enough to earn the club a first tilt at the end-of-season promotion-deciders since 1996.
If, for whatever reason, the fight for seventh is not resolved by 5pm, attention will switch to the final day when City travel to Cheltenham and Exeter make the trip to Chesterfield.
Taking on two sides hoping to claim automatic promotion come April 27 is not easy, but Parkinson, whose side lost at home to Rotherham United in midweek, is backing Bradford to prevail.
He said: “There was very little in the game (last Tuesday) and we really should have got something out of the game. But the Rotherham match is gone now so we have to look forward.
“We have two huge games coming up and that has to be our focus. We are in a good position, I think everyone can see that. Put it this way, I’d have taken this a few weeks ago if it had been offered.
“Our destiny is in our hands and you can’t ask for a lot more than that. If we win our last two games, we are in the play-offs – no matter how anyone else does.”
Burton are fourth in the table, level on points with the Millers, who occupy the final automatic promotion slot courtesy of a superior goal difference. Cheltenham, meanwhile, are a place and two points behind Rotherham and the Brewers.
Parkinson added: “I honestly don’t know if we need to win both games. But we will be trying to do so and I believe we can do it.
“We are up against two decent sides, who both have everything to play for going into the final two games. Both will think they can win automatic promotion and will be going all out to make that happen. We have shown already this season that we can do well against the top teams. We can feel confident.”
City’s bid for three points will also be fuelled by a sense of injustice from the game at Burton earlier in the season when Parkinson felt Ricky Ravenhill’s red card in a 1-0 defeat had come courtesy of play-acting on the part of midfielder Lee Bell.
Adding to Bradford’s sense of frustration that afternoon was Luke Oliver and Andrew Davies suffering serious injuries, just a few days before they met Wigan Athletic in the Capital One Cup.
Parkinson said: “There were some talking points down there. My problem was with the injuries that we suffered. They came as a blow. We also had a player sent off (Ravenhill) so there was a lot of frustration there.”
Davies spent three-and-a-half months on the sidelines after Burton and will be missing again today with the calf problem that forced the defender out of the defeat to Rotherham.
It remains too early to say if the former Middlesbrough man will be back to face Cheltenham on the final day.