City home draw comfort against ‘northerners’ Cambridge

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CAMBRIDGE is 157 miles from Bradford so few would expect the two cities to be in the same half of a regional draw.

This, though, is the weird and not-so-wonderful world of the Checkatrade Trophy so football fans from the University city can next month look forward to a trip to Valley Parade in a regionalised second round that will also see Doncaster Rovers host Blackpool.

Just how much of a ‘prize’ this constitutes for the U’s finishing as runners-up to Scunthorpe United in Group G is open to debate, not least because there are no less than 14 of the 16 remaining sides in the southern half of the draw that are closer to Cambridge than Bradford.

Norwich and Coventry are also, as anyone with even a rudimentary grasp on geography, further north than United’s Abbey Stadium and yet both clubs were in the southern half of yesterday’s draw. Still, Bantams assistant manager Kenny Black admits being at Valley Parade in a tie that will staged in the week beginning December 5 is a bonus. “Home advantage is never a bad thing,” said the Scot. “It is now a straight knockout and when the next round comes around we will approach it in the right manner.”

A competition that began life in 1983 as the Associate Members’ Cup has come in for a wave of criticism following a revamp and crowds have been shockingly poor, the 827 that watched Bradford’s 3-2 defeat at Morecambe on Wednesday night being one of 23 ties this week to register a three-figure attendance as managers rang the changes. “The younger lads will have learned a lot,” said Black about City’s trio of debutants James King, Ellis Hudson and Tom Windle. “It was good to blood two or three of the youngsters. Ellis Hudson did well so, all in all, apart from the result it was a pleasing 90 minutes.”