Bradford City v Notts County... SIX-POINTER match preview

Last updated : 11 January 2008 By Paul Smith
Both Notts and Bradford have been accustomed to many woes of late and both can consider themselves something of giants at League Two level.

Their respective grounds and history may say that but the reality couldn't be starker.
Valley Parade... Biggest League Two crowds this season

Both have fallen dramaticaly - and mainly through financial trouble and mismanagement from the very top - but both need to start being realistic.

This game has become a six-pointer. Both have had poor seasons and both are in relegation trouble - although Bradford have started to pull away a touch of late.

Bradford sit two places above Notts, but are four points clear and have a game in hand. Therefore, a win for the Bantams will move them a huge seven points from Notts and widen the gap between relegation mire and bottom-half security a great deal.

Bower... Key man out for Bantams
A six-pointer if ever there was one.

Team news

Notts - Boss Charlie McParland welcomes new signings Ali Gibb and Gavin Strachan straight into his line-up, but has fellow new boy Guy Branston immediately suspended.

Myles Weston returns from injury but neither Mike Edwards or Jay Smith are ready just yet, while Jason Lee is doubtful.

Bradford - Experienced defender Mark Bower is out through injury while Luke Morgan, Sean Taylforth and Luke Medley all exited the club on loan this week.

McCall is likely to name an unchanged line-up.

Form guide

Notts - The Magpies are again in the midst of a poor run of form and have lost three of their last four games - the only one without a defeat a good 0-0 draw at Hereford on New Years Day. It is just one win in the last ten for McParland, a sequence which has seen Notts to 19th in the table - seven points above the drop but now a full 11 from half way.

Bradford - After a torrid start to life back in the basement division, Bradford have started to pick up of late, losing just three of their last 12 league games. Last time out they won 2-0 at Accrington Stanley. At home they have averaged attendances of over 13,000 but have been inconsistent, winning four times, drawing three and losing four.

Last time out

Bradford City 1-2 Notts County (August 25 2004)

The teams haven't met since Gary Mills' charges picked up a shock first win
Ullathorne... Superb strike last time out
of the campaign in the League Cup against their League One opponents back in the 2004/05 season.

Rob Ullathorne was the hero scoring his only goal for Notts to win it in Extra Time at the first round stage with a real thunderbolt.

The hosts took a lead after just six minutes through Dean Windass' penalty after Ben Muirhead had been wildly hacked down by David Pipe.

However, Notts were fully deserving of progressing to the next stage for a fine performance full of attacking play, with Matthew Williams the star turn up front alongside Glynn Hurst.

Williams' impressive run and shot hit the post, before Ian Richardson levelled on 64, after Williams and Tony Scully combined.

Ullathorne's winner came in the 105th minute, just after Pipe missed an open goal. From a full 35 yards the captain lashed home to send Notts to West Ham in the next round where they were unfortunate to lose out 3-2.

Key men

Notts - New boy Ali Gibb is likely to go straight into the starting eleven and will be an important member of the team immediately.

Notts have been crying out for a right-winger since the 4-3-3 formation employed by Steve Thompson was ditched, and Gibb offers natural width and an ability to get good quality into the box.

Thorne... A Notts nemesis
The former Stockport County star doesn't hesistate to lift the ball into the box and his ability to find a Notts striker will be crucial given the forwards lack of goals.

If he can at least create chances for them, one of them might finally break their long scoring ducks.

Bradford - Peter Thorne has been a thorn in Notts' side on countless occassions in the past, always likely to find the net against Notts.

And he is starting to hit form ominously for the Bantams.

His skills at leading the line are impressive, as is his ability to find the net with both feet and his head. His all-round game at this level marks him as a chief threat.

Given the chance he can cause considerable damage and will need to be watched very closely because his finishing can be deadly.

His injury problems have restricted him to just three goals so far this term, but that won't make him less of a threat as he is starting to prove his all-round abilities at the right time for McCall.

Big battle

Whether he plays from the start or appears from the bench, Spencer Weir-Daley will be desperate to get on at Valley Parade where he spent the end of last season on loan from Nottingham Forest.

Weir-Daley had a difficult spell, getting injured in his first training session meaning he started just twice, but he scored once and provided a threat.

His manager was David Wetherall, who is sure to be marking him should he participate tomorrow in a strange turnaround of events.

Weir-Daley could have been Wetherall's teammate but the hitman chose Notts ahead of City in the summer, and it is nigh time he started justifying his potential.

He will be desperate to prove his worth, but defenders don't come much wiser than Wetherall at this level as the experienced man has played at every level of the English leagues.

Said Wetherall: "(Spencer) is certainly capable of getting goals at this level and did it for a short time when he was on loan at Lincoln before us. That's why a lot of clubs were after him in the summer. I just hope that this is not the weekend when he finds his feet and scoring touch."

Possible line-ups

Notts - 4-4-2 - Kevin Pilkington; Adam Tann, Krystian Pearce, Stephen Hunt, Austin McCann; Ali Gibb, Neil MacKenzie, Gavin Strachan, Felix Bastians; Lawrie Dudfield, Spencer Weir-Daley.

Bradford - 4-4-2 - Donovan Ricketts; Darren Williams, Paul Heckingbottom, David Wetherall, Matthew Clarke; Omar Daley, Paul Evans, Lee Bullock, Joe Colbeck; Barry Conlon, Peter Thorne.


This looks a difficult trip for Notts. If anyone wins it I fear it will be the hosts but Notts may have enough about them to scrape a draw, which wouldn't be a bad point to build from. 1-1.