BRADFORD CITY boss Phil Parkinson is dreaming of a big-money Capital One Cup quarter-final tie to boost his League Two promotion bid after seeing his outstanding Bantams side dig deep before seeing off top-flight hosts Wigan Athletic 4-2 on penalties last night.
The game ended deadlocked at 0-0 after 120 minutes, with heroic City, roared by a massive 5,000-strong travelling army, producing an outstanding defensive performance to keep out the Latics, 59 places higher than them in the Football League, before keeping their cool from the spot to book their place in the last eight for the first time since 1988.
Misses from home players Shaun Maloney and Jordi Gomez, whose effort was saved by Matt Duke, sealed victory for the penalty specialists - and the memorable win which will be talked about for many a year by the City faithful, with the draw taking place tonight.
On the stand-out success, Parkinson, who saw Nathan Doyle, Gary Jones, Stephen Darby and Alan Connell coolly convert spot-kicks, said: “In terms of finance first of all, it is huge for the club, because there isn’t a great deal of money at Bradford.
“But if we can get a good draw now, that is going to really help us for the rest of this season and going into next season.
“We have a lot of injuries at the moment, and if you look at how many players we had out, it will give you some understanding of what a great victory it was for us.
“But equally, there is going to be a time where I am going to want to knock on the chairman’s door and say ‘look, we are going to need to improve this squad’ because teams at the top end of League Two as the season goes on do get better, and we are going to have to do that, especially with the injuries we have at the moment.”
Joining City in the hat are Leeds United, who saw off Southampton 3-0 at Elland Road to book their place in the quarter-finals for the first time since 1996, thanks to goals from Michael Tonge, El-Hadji Diouf and Luciano Becchio (penalty).
And manager Neil Warnock, who took former club Sheffield United to the last four of both domestic cup competitions in 2002-03, is eyeing a home tie in tonight’s draw.
Warnock, who has promised his daughter Amy that he would to try to take Leeds all the way to Wembley this season, said: “We will just do our best. It would be nice to get another home tie, but we will have to wait and see what crops up.”
Singling out summer signing Varney for praise after the ex-Portsmouth star cast aside sickness to start, he added: “I thought Luke Varney was excellent, despite the ‘miss of the century`, he didn`t let his head go down and I thought he was outstanding and because of that he brought Diouf more into the game.
“He hasn`t been very well. He has had a sickness bug and he was struggling at half-time. I asked him to try to give me twenty minutes and he gave me nearly forty minutes, so I thought he was outstanding and that is how I have seen him play in the past.”
The third Yorkshire side to triumph to seal a remarkable night were Middlesbrough, with Scott McDonald’s first-half strike seeing them deservedly sink Sunderland in the Wear-Tees derby - and claim revenge for unluckily losing to the Black Cats in the FA Cup earlier this year.
Riverside chief Tony Mowbray said: “That’s our fourth Capital One Cup game away from home so whoever we get and when the night comes, we’ll apply ourselves as we did at Sunderland.
“I am delighted for the team and the supporters. It was a decent performance.
“Cup competition is about getting through to the next round and we managed to do that. I think there will be a lot of happy people on Teesside.”
Meanwhile, Sheffield Wednesday’s Championship clash at Hull City in January has been moved for live Sky television coverage.
The game will still take place on its original date of Saturday, January 12 but will now kick-off at 5.20pm for live coverage rather than the original 3pm kick-off.
Owls boss Dave Jones is ready to veto any attempts by Barnsley counterpart Keith Hill to take Chris O’Grady on loan, with the Reds boss desperate to bring in striking reinforcements with top-scorer Craig Davies on the injured list.
Hill is also interested in Nottingham Forest front man David McGoldrick, who spent a short loan spell at Hillsborough last term, but the 24-year-old, on loan at Mark Robins’ Coventry City until January 2, is more of a medium-term target.
Promising young academy striker Diego De Girolamo has signed professional terms with Sheffield United this week, with the Blades staving off interest from the top-flight and Championship to secure his signature.