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Agony and ecstasy for Bradford City penalty heroes
City were left counting the cost of another dramatic cup triumph after suffering two more injuries.
Phil Parkinson will launch an urgent bid for reinforcements after Zavon Hines (ankle ligaments) and James Meredith (hip) were added to the casualty list following a rollercoaster FA Cup replay against Northampton.
Parkinson was keen not to knock off the gloss from the latest knock-out victory, which was almost inevitably secured from penalties. Carl McHugh’s header clinched a 3-3 draw with the final touch of extra-time before City won 4-2 on spot-kicks.
Their eighth straight shoot-out success booked a second-round home clash with League One Brentford on December 1.
But seeing City’s options further depleted by this latest double blow means shoring up numbers before the loan deadline two days before then will be a priority.
Parkinson said: “I had a meeting with the two chairmen last week and told them the most important period was between now and January.
“With the amount of games we’ve played, we’re going to need more players to get us through this. We ummed and aahed about it but now we’ve got to do it.
“As much as we’re pleased to go through, my mind in extra-time was thinking about who we’re going to bring in. We’re going to need reinforcements because we’re getting very low.
“We’ve got a terrific group of lads but they need help. Stephen Darby’s carrying an injury, Meredith and Hines have gone off and we have to get people in.”
City had twice led during 90 minutes. Will Atkinson put them ahead in the first half before Ishmel Demontagnac levelled from the penalty spot – straight after the home side felt they should have had a penalty for a pull on Adam Baker when the young striker was through.
Parkinson said: “That should have been a red card and a penalty. The ref told me at half-time that he (Baker) was too honest and stayed on his feet.
“Every week we watch Match of the Day and the pundits are talking about players diving and the ref’s telling me he should have gone down.
“Maybe it was a bit of naivety from Adam’s part but I feel the ref should have been able to judge that he was impeded.”
Nahki Wells thought he had won it with his 13th goal of the season from the spot with only two minutes left but Clive Platt sent the game into the extra half hour.
Kelvin Langmead then curled Northampton in front after 109 minutes but City, who had to play the second extra-time period with ten men, rescued it through teenager McHugh in injury time.
Parkinson admitted: “These lads never know when they are beaten. Once again you’ve seen the immense character in the team and they just keep going.
“We’ve got some record with shoot-outs. You could feel the confidence from the supporters and players.
“They kept cool heads again. When you’ve been in that position a few times, the experience has got to help you.”