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Matt Duke's dream comes true as Wembley trip beckons Bradford City
City goalkeeper Matt Duke will realise a “dream” of playing at Wembley after City booked their place in the Capital One Cup final.
The Bantams beat Aston Villa 4-3 on aggregate after taking a 3-1 lead into the second leg of their semi-final at Aston Villa.
Christian Benteke reduced Villa’s deficit in the 24th minute and the hosts were well on top in the first half.
But James Hanson scored a vital City goal on 55 minutes and although Andreas Weimann’s 89th-minute strike set up a tense finish, City hung on.
Duke made several telling saves across both legs to give City hope and he paid tribute to the side’s effort.
The 35-year-old said: “I’m speechless. The lads had a fantastic game – and the fans as well. It’ll be a great day at Wembley for them.
“Everyone had a great game. At 3-1 up, if we scored we fancied our chances and we fancied ourselves from set-pieces.
“As a kid playing football, you dream of Wembley and we’re going to do it.
“We’re going to take a League Two club to Wembley, we’re going to take a massive following, it’s going to be an amazing day and I’m looking forward to it.”
Duke was still struggling to comprehend City’s efforts as they became the first club from the lowest tier of English football to reach the League Cup final since Rochdale in 1962.
He said: “I’ve still got to believe it. When we scored, we had a chance.
“You could smell it in the dressing room before; could smell the chance.
“Full credit to the manager, the staff and everybody at the club. The fans came out in numbers to support us – it’s fantastic.”
Hanson was understandably jubilant after the victory, although he thought Villa would pose a stronger challenge.
The City striker said:“I can’t believe it, it really hasn’t sunk in yet.
“The lads dug in in the first half and I thought we were going to have our backs to the wall.
“But we were actually pretty comfortable in the second half and we held on well.”
Villa manager Paul Lambert admitted his side had thrown away a golden chance to reach Wembley.
He said: “I am absolutely gutted, disappointed, hurt, everything.
“Everyone is hurt. You will never have a better chance to get to a cup final throughout your whole career, even the young lads.
“It may take them ten or 12 years to get even close to one again. That’s the hurt.
“I am every bit as hurt as the fans are. It’s my responsibility. I know exactly what it’s like and I know exactly what they’re feeling because I am feeling the exact same.”
City fans chanted “you’re getting sacked in the morning” but Lambert is adamant he remains the right man for the job of rebuilding Villa.
He said: “Am I still the man for Villa? Yes, absolutely. When you ask managers that, they will tell you they just get on with it. Until you hear anything different, you have to run with it.
“There are two ways – you either lie down and take it or you come out fighting. I am certainly not going to lie down.”