Villa victory better than Arsenal win

Bradford City’s heroes return to training today with the express aim of bottling their euphoria and turning their attentions to Oxford United, writes Nick Westby.

Phil Parkinson might have described Tuesday night’s unforgettable League Cup semi-final victory over Aston Villa as being better than the triumph over Arsenal a month earlier.

But it will all count for nothing but fond memories if they don’t finish the job in two weeks’ time, and more pertinently, maintain their promotion push in League Two by getting three points on Saturday.

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“When we come back into work on Thursday we need to get our minds focused on Oxford,” said Parkinson.

“It is so important that we get the three points this weekend. If we play in the manner that I know we can we’ll give ourselves a fair chance.”

Admittedly, shifting the focus will not be easy given the magnitude of Bradford’s accomplishment on Tuesday night. Victories on penalties over Wigan and Arsenal are one thing, but a fearless dismantling of an established Premier League outfit is quite another.

“Arsenal was a great night for us, but I think for all-round performance that was better,” said Parkinson.

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“Villa played a very attacking team and we had to defend really well, but equally they left a lot of space for us to play and it was important that our quality players, when they got the chance to play, showed a calmness on the ball, and they did that.

“We’re absolutely delighted with the way we played. From the first minute to the last minute we were absolutely tremendous.”

Parkinson praised his entire team for their efforts, with headline grabbers Matt Duke, Gary Jones and Nakhi Wells earning the manager’s plaudits, as well as unsung heroes James Hanson and 19-year-old makeshift left-back Curtis Good.

The unconditional support of the City fans also gave Parkinson a lift.

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“The support was incredible and the way they back the players got that extra 10, 15 per cent out of them. That was visibly clear,” he said.

“And that’s so important because we’re playing against a team three divisions above us and we needed the crowd to get behind us and they created a tremendous atmosphere that really helped.”