Bradford City v Peterborough United: Bantams show progress despite exit of several key players

MANAGER Stuart McCall believes any half-term report on Bradford City's season should be positive.

Bantams boss, Stuart McCall. PIC: Bruce Rollinson

The Bantams welcome Peterborough United to Valley Parade sitting fifth with 42 points.

A year ago City were in the same position at the halfway stage, but four points worse off, which considering the number of experienced departures last summer is testament to how McCall has kept the club moving forward.

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“We have to be pleased with how things have gone,” said the former Scotland international. “To have more points than last year, when we went on to reach the play-off final, is a really good effort by the squad, especially after all that happened last summer.

“There were so many changes, and a lot of our best players left. To not allow those departures to affect us is a big achievement.”

Five points separate Bradford from the automatic promotion places while today’s visitors Peterborough lead the chasing pack in the hunt for a top-six finish with 35 points.

“We are sandwiched in between a lot of teams who have spent big money by League One standards,” said McCall.

“To be where we are is very satisfying. Equally, though, it doesn’t mean anything. We are only halfway through the season and there is a lot of football to be played.”

Peterborough, like Saturday’s visitors Oxford United, view Bradford as a big scalp to take in the quest to make a concerted push for the play-offs.

McCall added: “This is always an important time, and especially for us as it is a run of three games against teams with serious play-off aspirations.

“Peterborough, Oxford and Fleetwood (who City travel to on New Year’s Day) will all fancy their chances of making the top six in the new year. They will see the games against us as an important step towards that.”

McCall’s side were not in action on Boxing Day, 2015, due to a late postponement, while last season saw a goalless draw at home to Scunthorpe United. As with those two festive seasons, the Bantams’ manager gave all his players the day off yesterday.

“Everyone approaches Christmas differently,” he added. “But I like to give the players Christmas Day off and then we are fresh come Boxing Day.

“I don’t see rotation as so much of a thing for Boxing Day, even though we played on Saturday. It is more those second two games in a few days, Fleetwood and Oxford (December 30 and January 1), where maybe we will look to make changes.”

Last six games: Bradford City WWLWWL Peterborough United DWLWWW.

Referee: D Handley (Lancashire).

Last time: Bradford City 1 Peterborough United 0; March 4, 2017; League One.