FA Cup: Give us anyone at home, say brilliant Bradford

Jon Stead smiles as Bradford City team-mates mob him after he had scored the second goal in the League One side's 2-0 FA Cup fifth-round win over Premier League Sunderland at Valley Parade yesterday (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe).
Jon Stead smiles as Bradford City team-mates mob him after he had scored the second goal in the League One side's 2-0 FA Cup fifth-round win over Premier League Sunderland at Valley Parade yesterday (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe).
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BILLY CLARKE insists Bradford City will not fear anyone in tonight’s FA Cup quarter-final draw after adding Sunderland to their growing list of Premier League scalps.

The Bantams, fresh from beating Chelsea in the previous round, made light work of Gus Poyet’s men thanks to an early own goal by John O’Shea and Jon Stead finding the net for the fifth time in this season’s competition.

For City, reaching the last eight for the first time in 39 years will mean a welcome windfall of £180,000 in prize money plus the guarantee of another £247,500 in live broadcast fees due to all four quarter-finals being shown live.

Added to the £400,000 Bradford banked from beating Chelsea and the £100,000 the club made from yesterday’s sell-out crowd, the Cup has proved a 
lucrative affair this term.

For Phil Parkinson’s heroes, however, it is not monetary reward that is getting pulses racing right now, but the prospect of making history.

The Bantams are potentially just 90 minutes from reaching Wembley and Clarke, whose early shot was deflected into his own net by O’Shea, says no one scares the League One battlers.

Clarke said: “A home tie would be nice. It was great to see the stadium like that. But we don’t fear anyone, definitely not.

“Liverpool and Arsenal are still in it, but we beat the best team in the country so we have to have belief. Anyone will do, anyone at all.

“We just want to enjoy the next round and take the confidence from beating Chelsea and Sunderland into that match.”

Bradford went into yesterday’s tie as the lowest ranked team still in the competition.

Like Clarke, manager Parkinson is also eyeing a home tie in the next round over the weekend of March 7 and 8.

The 47-year-old, who led City to the League Cup final in 2013 via victories over the likes of Arsenal and Aston Villa, said: “It is a fantastic record, and this was another terrific day for Bradford City.

“Anyone here will have sampled that atmosphere and seen what a full Valley Parade is like.

“To me, it is like a throwback. You have three sides all singing and getting behind the team. The lads were revelling in it.

“They deserve that support, too, for the manner of our performances over the past few years.

“We have played with commitment and have a group of players who wear the shirt with pride every week.

“Of course any draw at this stage is a good draw. But I would like a home draw. The atmosphere we had against Sunderland is something I would like to sample again.

“When asked after every round who I’d like, I have said ‘Manchester United’ all along. But they have got a tricky tie at Preston (tonight).

“I am sure the chairmen will want to be away to a big Premier League club but I would really like to be at home.

“The atmosphere here is special and it would be great for those fans to have that experience again.

“What I can say to our supporters is that whoever we draw, we will give it everything we have got.”

Parkinson took Bradford to Wembley twice in the space of three months in 2013, the League Cup defeat to Swansea City being followed by a victory over Northampton Town in the League Two play-off final.

The Bantams’ chief added: “Wembley is something we will have to try and play down over the next few weeks, especially when we travel to Orient this week.

“We have to ensure our focus is on the league games. But it is great for the club, the two chairmen, the board, the fans and the players that we are still in the Cup.

“We are enjoying every minute. It is great to get the name of Bradford City on the tips of everyone’s tongue.”

Sunderland were well beaten, but Poyet did feel referee Kevin Friend failing to give a penalty for what the Uruguayan adjudged to have been a foul on Steven Fletcher by Rory McArdle had been a big turning point in the tie.

“It was easy,” said Poyet, who was without Jermain Defoe due to a calf injury.

“He (Friend) was in the right position. He saw it but I can’t do anything about that.”

Parkinson, however, had a different view of the incident. He said: “I actually thought he won the ball, it was a terrific challenge.

“I was surprised when their bench jumped up for it.”

On McArdle, who sported a bandage for most of the game after a clash of heads with Danny Graham, Parkinson added: “The strikers always get the headlines, but McArdle was exceptional.

“We are in an era when I watch Under-21 games and defenders bring the ball out from the back and roll the ball into midfield.

“That is good. But defending is judged on blocks and headers. I lost count of how many Rory did of both.”

As upset as Poyet was at not getting a first-half penalty, the Sunderland manager was full of praise for the Bantams.

He said: “They deserve all the credit. The good thing about this Bradford team is they didn’t win every game here.

“They won at Stamford Bridge against the best team in the league right now, on a great pitch.

“You have to give them plenty of credit for what they do.

“Phil understands what is needed and his team has been doing it. I have played football so I know what it means.

“Maybe a few don’t know what it is like for Bradford City to be out on this pitch in these conditions against a top team.

“That is why the FA Cup is the best competition in the world – because the top teams do not always win against League One teams.”

The draw will take place at 7.30pm tonight.

Match report and more pictures: Page 2.