Ready to tame ‘the beast’ in final challenge

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A BIG challenge awaits Andrew Davies today. Literally, one of the biggest in football.

Adebayo Akinfenwa, at 5ft 11 and an estimated 16 stone, is not known as ‘The Beast’ for nothing. Such a physique inevitably stands out in the Football League and the Northampton striker is the first to admit that several of his previous managers have been unable to look beyond his hulking frame.

At Sixfields, however, he is hugely popular after a season that has seen Akinfenwa plunder 16 goals in League Two to help propel the Cobblers to within touching distance of promotion.

Standing between Akinfenwa and a return to a division he last played in four years ago is Davies, who in two league meetings with the Cobblers this season has helped the Bantams keep two clean sheets.

“It will be a big challenge,” said the City defender when asked about the prospect of tackling Northampton’s top scorer at Wembley. “I have played against him a few times so know what to expect.

“He is a big, strong boy who gets some goals. So, you have to match that threat. The thing is, I am a big, strong boy as well.

“I won’t be shying away from the challenge. I don’t care how big anyone is, I am just relishing the opportunity to try and help Bradford City win promotion.”

Unlike Northampton, City have recent experience of playing at the national stadium thanks to February’s appearance in the Capital One Cup final.

The heaviest defeat in League Cup final history may not have been the fairytale ending Bradford had been hoping for but Davies insists the memory of playing at Wembley is one Phil Parkinson’s squad will cherish for the rest of their lives.

“The result left the mood a bit down afterwards,” admits the 28-year-old, who was a half-time substitute for Curtis Good. “But the occasion was fantastic. Most of the lads had never been before, including me.

“We deserve credit for getting there and the fans deserve credit for their support. It was phenomenal. I have said from day one here that these are the best fans I have played in front of in my career.

“The way they support the lads drives us all on. And that day at Wembley was special. I was concentrating on the game but I couldn’t help but notice how they kept cheering us on, even when the game was all but over.”

Whether Davies will be around to play in front of those supporters again next season remains to be seen with the defender’s contract due to expire next month.

He added: “I don’t know what will happen. I am just focusing on this game and don’t want any distractions, whether that be contracts or whatever. What I will say is I am really happy here, as this is a smashing club.”