Bradford perform more heroics to edge closer to Wembley date


DELIGHTED Bradford manager Phil Parkinson lauded his serial giant-killers last night after they took a huge step towards becoming the first fourth-tier team to reach the League Cup final for more than half a century.

The League Two club swept aside their Premier League opponents, who sit 60 places above them, in a swashbuckling semi-final first leg with goals from Nahki Wells, Rory McArdle and Carl McHugh.

Bradford, who have already seen off top flight Arsenal and Wigan in this competition, can become the first club from the fourth tier to reach the final since Rochdale in 1962 if they survive the second leg at Villa Park in a fortnight.

“To score three against a Premier League team is an outstanding achievement,” said Parkinson.

“Villa came with a very attacking line-up but left space on the pitch and we passed it very well tonight. The lads were magnificent in all departments. We don’t want to get carried away because we’ve got to go to Villa Park and do it all again but it was a great victory for us.”

The Bantams weathered an early barrage of attacks before Zavon Hines’s deflected shot landed to Wells and the Bermudian tucked past Shay Given in the 19th minute.

Villa fell further behind 13 minutes from time when McArdle met a Gary Jones left-wing cross with a close-range header, although Andreas Weimann quickly dinked over the outstanding Matt Duke to reduce the arrears.

McHugh escaped Christian Benteke and met a right-wing corner with a powerful header to restore Bradford’s two-goal advantage in the dying moments.