Bradford City manager Mark Hughes delighted by Wembley talk as play-off place booked

Once Bradford City booked their place in the play-offs on the final day of the regular season, goalscorer Brad Halliday began talking about "when" rather than "if" they get to Wembley. It was music to manager Mark Hughes's ears.

It was no slip of the tongue from the right-back after his deflected equaliser set up a 1-1 draw with already-crowned champions Leyton Orient and with that, home and away games against Carlisle United in the play-off semi-finals.

Some managers might not be happy to hear players talking that way, but not Hughes.

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"Why not, he's just scored a goal after two years (without) so why wouldn't he be positive?" said the manager. “We needed to get the job done and now we can really focus on what we have to do.

"We're in the mix to get out of this league, which was always the goal."

Bradford knew a point would secure a top-seven place but in front of their biggest crowd since they played in the Premier League – 22,576 – they went behind to Jordan Brown's goal but responded through Halliday within minutes.

With Salford City losing, Bradford finished sixth in League Two.

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“We’re obviously pleased because it was a difficult fixture for us,” commented Hughes. “We were up against the champions and everybody saw they are champions for a reason. They are an outstanding team at this level so going up against them in a game we still needed to get something out of looked a difficult task prior to kick-off.

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED: Bradford City manager Mark HughesMISSION ACCOMPLISHED: Bradford City manager Mark Hughes
MISSION ACCOMPLISHED: Bradford City manager Mark Hughes

“It wasn’t one that was beyond us but we obviously had to do the right things.

“We had the setback of the initial goal going against us but came back really strongly very quickly, which was important.

“I felt then it was a game between two evenly-matched teams who didn’t give any quarter to each other.

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"In the end I was really pleased with the outcome because we still have an opportunity to get out of this league and that was the goal before the season started.

“We’re still on track for that. We’ll have a couple of days downtime and then look ahead to Sunday and another huge game.”

Former Middlesbrough, York City and Doncaster Rovers right-back Halliday was unsurprisingly delighted with his first goal in two-and-a-half years.

"It came out to the edge of the box and I just tried to put it on target and make the keeper work but it took a little deflection and went in so I'm buzzing," he said.

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"I'm not sure what the odds on me scoring first were but it might have been triple figures I'd think.

"They don't come around very often but it was big."

The timing was crucial.

"When they scored getting a quick goal back always helps because it gives us a bit of momentum going in at half-time and coming out still in the game, not chasing," said Halliday.

"It was in our hands going into the game and we checked results at the end. Mansfield scored their second late on so it could have been a different day but we've got the job done and that's all that matters."

The Bantams host fifth-placed Carlisle on Sunday at 7pm. The return leg is on May 20 at 3pm.