Bradford City winger Harry Chapman finds himself a Swindon silver lining - at long last

HARRY CHAPMAN’S journey home from the League Two game at Swindon Town last season was not pleasurable.

The coach trip back on his latest return trip from that corner of Wiltshire on Saturday was a pretty rueful one as well. Fortunately, a silver lining arrived just three days on.

On just his fifth league appearance of the season in the colours of Bradford City last weekend, the mercurial winger was left to reflect on a bitterly disappointing afternoon at the County Ground, both from a personal and team perspective.

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City’s post-Christmas slump continued by virtue of a 2-0 reverse at a venue which already held painful memories for the Teessider.

Bradford City's Harry Chapman (right), pictured in action in the EFL Trophy tie at Derby County earlier this year. Picture: Nick Potts/PA Wire.Bradford City's Harry Chapman (right), pictured in action in the EFL Trophy tie at Derby County earlier this year. Picture: Nick Potts/PA Wire.
Bradford City's Harry Chapman (right), pictured in action in the EFL Trophy tie at Derby County earlier this year. Picture: Nick Potts/PA Wire.

It was where he suffered a serious season-ending hamstring injury in a 1-0 defeat last April, - in a 2022-23 campaign which saw the Bantams make the play-offs. He returned to action in late October after being out of action for six months.

This time around, Chapman’s Swindon angst has disappeared quickly.

After missing some opportunities last Saturday, the 26-year-old wore a smile on his face after his well-executed free-kick proved the difference in Tuesday night’s 1-0 triumph over Yorkshire rivals Doncaster Rovers in the quarter-finals of the EFL Trophy.

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It ensured City won for just the second time in nine matches in all competitions and moved them to within one victory of Wembley.

Given their poor league form, it kept their season alive as a competitive entity, with their run in the competition having so far banked them a total of £140,000.

Chapman, whose previous goal was on Easter Monday last year, said: "I definitely needed something.

"Since I have been back in, I’ve had a few opportunities to score and not quite taken them or snapped at them as I am so eager to get back in and score. Now this one has come, I can hopefully get a bagful.

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"I always back my ability and know what I can do with a football. I was speaking to Richie (Smallwood) on the bus on the way home (from Swindon) and I had a couple of chances at Swindon that I snatched at.

"I just said to him that it’s just confidence - once one goes in, I’ll start relaxing and taking my time and picking out corners.

"I do 10 to 15 minutes once a week on dead-ball situations as I feel like we are a real threat from set-pieces and that if we get the delivery right, we can score goals."

Chapman is intent upon making up for lost time after a tough second half of 2023.

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It saw him undergo an operation to repair his damaged hamstring. In late July, he was also charged with misconduct over an alleged breach of Football Association betting rules. It was subsequently withdrawn a month later.

One of seven changes to the starting line-up from the weekend, Chapman made the most of his opportunity from the off against Rovers and hopes to have planted a seed with Graham Alexander ahead of earning an extended run, starting at home to AFC Wimbledon this coming weekend.

Chapman, who has had previous spells in Yorkshire at Barnsley and Sheffield United after starting his career at Middlesbrough, continued: “I trust the gaffer, Chris (Lucketti) and the medical team in their decisions.

"As a footballer, I want to play every minute of every game and unfortunately, it has not been the case (this season).

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"I always knew my qualities and what I could bring to the team and now it’s just getting confidence back in my body to trust what I am doing and do it regularly.

"Its not been a good couple of weeks (for the team) and hopefully that gives us the confidence to go into the weekend and show we are a good team and that if we keep doing the right things, the results will come."

As for the prospect of a Wembley appearance - City find out their semi-final opponents at 6.15pm on Friday - the 26-year-old commented: "It’s been spoken about (Wembley), but our focus goes to Saturday and when the semi-final is drawn.

"Wembley is the goal and it will be a great day if we manage to do it."

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Earlier mentions of Swindon brings us nicely to another City player in Jake Young, who made his first Valley Parade start since October 2022 on Tuesday.

The striker, back in West Yorkshire after a productive loan spell with the Robins, showed glimpses of what he offers against Doncaster.

City assistant Chris Lucketti said: “You can see he is going to give us a different dimension to what we’ve had recently because he’s got real genuine pace.

"He gets on the half turn, he gets you up the pitch and as soon he gets that facing a defender, they want to retreat to the goal. It’s something that we haven’t had and he will bring to the team.

"With the additions of Jake, ‘Chappy’ getting to speed and Tyreik (Wright) coming back to fitness, they are going to add to the quality we need in front of goal."