Parky’s Giant Killers Strike Again And Humiliate Aston Villa
|The City heroes celebrate McHugh's goal|
Oh. My. Goodness.
Over 22,000 squeezed into a packed Valley Parade, joined by the Sky Sports cameras, the nation’s press and arguably the most famous referee in the country. The eyes of the nation were firmly focussed on Bradford City, everyone spellbound by the heart-warming story of the humble League 2 team who crafted their own giant-killing legacy.
The country had finally sat up and taken notice.
And what a game for them all to see.
City and Aston Villa started the game equally. The Premier League favourites had early attempts denied, whilst the hosts seemed convincing when they were on the attack. The Bantams had to wait just 19 minutes to establish their deserved lead, and prove to Paul Lambert’s side that Bradford weren’t going down without a fight.
Zavon Hines’ effort was blocked, but Nahki Wells was ready for the rebound. The Bermudan reacted superbly and drilled the ball into the bottom corner, celebrating with a poignant gesture to his late Bermuda team-mate.
Valley Parade erupted in deafening cheers of euphoria. I screamed. Fans jumped up and down. The Kop entered into chants of, “Who are you? Who are you?” We had done it again. We had scored against a Premier League team. It was just unbelievable.
We were leading Villa, and it wasn’t a dream.
Villa began to attack, but the Bradford defence was calm and composed. The centre half pairing of McHugh and McArdle was strong, and Good and Derby performed some crucial clearances.
Duke, meanwhile, was on stunning form. When a powerful Villa shot had beaten the defence, the keeper got a knee to the ball and averted the danger, before going on to deny Benteke’s effort in the 31st minute.
Half-time approached, and the consensus amongst the fans was clear: City had been the better side.
As the second-half comenced, Villa seemed to gain some composure. They began to string passes together and won a corner for their efforts. The ball was whipped into the box and landed at the feet of Clark, whose poor control prevented him from finding the equaliser. Moments later, Duke thwarted Benteke’s header.
Aston Villa attacked again. As Duke and the City defence scrambled to recover from an earlier save, the ball found Bent. Duke was beaten: to level, Bent just needed to hit the target. Much to the delight of the Bradford faithful, though, he sent the header flying over the bar. Humiliated.
Bradford began to surge forward in numbers, lead by Gary Jones. Captain Fantastic changed the flow of the game with his superb passes, and the hosts soon had a corner.
As Jones curled in the ball, McArdle dived low to send it flying into the back of the net. Pandemonium ensued as the defender raced to celebrate; we were leading Villa by two goals. This was no fluke.
The visitors were on the counter attack, Andreas Weimann helping to prevent the side from enduring complete embarrassment. The score was 2-1, and that away goal may prove crucial.
Undeterred, valiant Bradford broke again, and good work from Blair Turgott resulted in a corner. Gary Jones’ cross found Carl McHugh, whose blistering header beat Shay Given. It was a superb moment for the teenager, who, prior to the game, had joked about putting one past his boyhood hero.
It was a fitting end to a night on which so many people’s dreams had come true.
Is a Wembley final on the cards? It’s too early to say: there’s still another leg to play and Villa will come out fighting, and they’ve got that all-important away goal.
The City fans, though, are daring to dream…