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Match Previews

MATCH PREVIEW: Swindon Town vs Bradford City

We look ahead to the visit of in-form Bantams…

17 April 2023

Match Previews

MATCH PREVIEW: Swindon Town vs Bradford City

We look ahead to the visit of in-form Bantams…

17 April 2023

Swindon Town welcome Bradford City to the County Ground tomorrow evening, Tuesday 18 April.

The visitors head into the clash having lost just once in their last 17 league outings, while Town ended a run of four straight losses with a goalless draw at home to Barrow on Saturday.

Here’s an insight into Bradford ahead of our next big fixture.

 The lowdown…

Bradford City are steeped in history. Founded in 1903, the club was formed following several meetings set up by Bradford Observer sub-editor James Whyte, who wanted to promote association football in a county dominated by rugby league.

Originally planned to co-exist with Manningham FC, the football club was elected to the Second Division in place of Doncaster Rovers and took over from Manningham, after it was decided the club would switch codes completely from rugby to football.

Bradford City Association Football Club was formed as a result, and adopted Manningham’s claret and amber strip, as well as taking over their Valley Parade ground.

The club finished tenth in their first season and won the Second Division title in 1907/08, achieving promotion to the First Division.

The Bantams narrowly avoided relegation in their first campaign and followed that with their highest placed finish of fifth in 1910/11.

They also won the FA Cup that season, courtesy of a goal from captain Jimmy Speirs in a final replay against Newcastle United.

City stayed in the First Division until 1922 when they were relegated alongside Manchester United, and continued their slump with a further demotion to the Third Division (North) in 1927.

The yo-yoed between the Second and Third Division in subsequent years, achieving multiple promotions and relegations, and their move up into the Second Division in 1985 was marred with tragedy, after a stand at Valley Parade caught fire during the last match of the season, killing 56 people.

As a result, today’s opponents played their home matches at a host of neighbouring grounds, including Leeds’ Elland Road.

In 1994 Geoffrey Richmond took over as Chairman, and after a string of managers, including Swindon favourite Chris Kamara, Bradford were promoted to the Premier League under the stewardship of Paul Jewell, who led the club to the top division for the first time in 77 years after a series of near misses.

The club avoided relegation on the last day of the season the following year after beating Liverpool 1-0, but they were unable to repeat that feat the following term and were demoted in 2001.

At the end of their first season back in Division One, Bradford suffered with financial difficulties and were placed into administration, and were relegated to Division Two just two years later, as well as being placed into administration for the second time. The Bantams were relegated to the bottom tier for the first time in 26 years in 2007.

They have spent time in League One and League Two since and have remained in the latter following relegation in 2019.

During this spell, however, Bradford have reached the League Cup final, losing to Swansea City 5-0 in 2013 and becoming the first team in the fourth tier to reach a major Wembley cup final in the process.

The season so far…

Mark Hughes’ men have hit form at just the right time this season.

After a difficult opening, Bradford find themselves in sixth after a rich vein of form that has seen them lose just once in their last 17 matches, and will be buoyed by a 3-0 victory over relegation-threatened Rochdale in their last fixture.

Last time out…

The last time Swindon travelled to West Yorkshire they managed a 1-1 draw with The Bantams, with Luke Jephcott providing an exciting end to the game by converting at the second attempt after Harry Lewis saved the on-loan Plymouth man’s 92nd minute penalty.

The draw was a welcome point for The Robins, who had been behind for much of the game after Tyreik Wright opened the scoring on 32-minutes.

Head to Head…

Town have a mixed record against Bradford with one win, two draws and two losses in their last five meetings, all of those taking place in League Two.

Swindon however, will take heart from the fact the last two meetings between the sides has seen them take four points out of a possible six.  

19/20: Bradford City 2 – 1 Swindon Town L
20/21: Swindon Town 1 – 1 Bradford City D
21/22: Swindon Town 1 – 3 Bradford City L
21/22: Bradford City 1 – 2 Swindon Town W
22/23: Bradford City 1 – 1 Swindon Town D

The Manager: Mark Hughes

Mark Hughes arrived at Valley Parade last year with serious pedigree, both as a player and manager.

The Welshman began his footballing career with Manchester United, clocking up 89 appearances and 37 goals before a brief detour to Barcelona and a loan spell at Bayern Munich saw him return to United again, where he racked up over 250 appearances.

The striker also enjoyed spells at Chelsea, Southampton, Everton and Blackburn Rovers, and was capped by his country 72 times.

Hughes famously scored on his debut for Wales, slotting in just 17 minutes into his first game, a goal that ended up being the winner in a tie against England in 1984.

He also has an impressive managerial CV.

He was handed the reigns of the Welsh national side alongside Neville Southall following Bobby Gould’s departure, a mammoth first job made even bigger by the fact that Hughes was still playing for Southampton at the time.

After impressing in his new role, he was appointed permanent manager, and almost steered Wales to Euro 2004, narrowly missing out after losing to Russia in the play-offs, ending a campaign that included a 2-1 victory over Italy in Cardiff.

Hughes remained Wales manager for five years, ending his time with them to join then Premier League Blackburn, the club he ended his playing career with.

He made the jump with Rovers in a perilous position and managed to avoid relegation in his first season and take them to the FA Cup semi-finals for the first time in 40 years, before leading them to sixth the following year, qualifying for the UEFA Cup and reaching the League Cup final.

After transforming Rovers’ fortunes and turning them into regular European qualifiers, Hughes left Ewood Park to join Manchester City in 2008, replacing the outgoing Sven Göran-Eriksson who had been sacked following a disappointing campaign.

City paid a then-world record compensation fee to lure him from Blackburn.

Hughes arrived just before the takeover at City and was given the difficult task of overseeing the club’s transition to a football superpower.

While he did enjoy some success and signed players that went on to have distinguished careers at the club, Hughes was unable to meet the requirements of the new owners and was relieved of his duties in 2009.

He also has experienced managing at Fulham, QPR, Stoke and Southampton, and his move to Bradford last year came with a lot of fanfare given his experience in the game and the fact that he hadn’t managed outside the Premier League prior to his appointment.

Players to watch:

Romoney Crichlow

Former Town loanee Romoney Crichlow has excelled since joining Bradford in the summer on loan from Huddersfield, making 29 appearances for The Bantams and being part of a resolute defence that has conceded only 35 goals this season - the third fewest in the division.

Luton-born Crichlow started at Enfield Borough before being quickly snapped by Huddersfield, making four appearances before a number of further loans, including Bradford Park Avenue and Swindon.

Following his spell with The Robins last season, Crichlow was recalled in January and spent the second half of the season on loan at League One outfit Plymouth Argyle before joining Bradford at the start of this campaign.

Andy Cook

The divisions top scorer Andy Cook has been in red-hot form this season, contributing 24 goals in 33 appearances in the league.

The veteran Englishman has scored over half of City’s goals this season, and that conversion rate has been a huge factor in the Bantams battle for promotion this time out, earning him a nomination for League Two’s Player of the Season, alongside Northampton’s Sam Hoskins and Carl Piergianni of Stevenage.

Cook began his career at Carlisle United, and following loans at Workington and Barrow, secured a permanent move to the latter, where he scored 18 goals in 60 appearances before moving to Grimsby Town.

The forward then returned to Barrow where he had a prolific spell that saw a return of 47 goals in 87 appearances, followed up by a similarly impressive 49 goals in 85 games for Tranmere Rovers.

After time at Walsall and Mansfield, he moved to Bradford in 2021.

With 36 goals in 79 games for City, Cook has been the focal point of attacks for the visitors, and Swindon will need to build on last weekend’s clean sheet if they are to keep him at bay.

Brad Halliday

Defender Halliday has the joint-most appearances of any outfield player in Bradford’s squad, racking up 40, only matched by team mate Richard Smallwood.

The versatile ace can play in either defence or midfield, but it’s at the back he has made a name for himself this year.

Born in Redcar, he’s been a mainstay in the team and has provided much needed consistency that has allowed Bradford to function better.

After spells at both Newcastle and Middlesborough in his youth, Halliday signed professional terms with the latter before gaining experience in League Two, with temporary switches to York City, Hartlepool and Accrington Stanley.

He then signed permanent terms with Cambridge United and spent two seasons at League One club Doncaster Rovers, amassing 70 league appearances before making the switch to today’s opponents.


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