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Keeping it clean lifts Bradford City play-off hopes
Rory McArdle is backing City’s miserly methods to keep pushing them towards the play-off race.
The Bantams return to Valley Parade against Aldershot on Saturday after clocking up back-to-back clean sheets on their travels.
McArdle felt his side did enough to follow up the win over York with the same at second-placed Port Vale in midweek. But the biggest plus for the defender from the 0-0 stalemate was the way they had shut out another opponent.
City had kept only two clean sheets in the previous 11 league games before last weekend’s Yorkshire derby. But after two in a week – taking their overall tally to 13 – the Northern Ireland international can see the foundations being laid down for the strong run-in that will be needed.
McArdle said: “You don’t tend to win games unless you keep clean sheets. Getting them back to back will give everyone confidence.
“You all get a boost if we can keep playing and defending like that more often. You know that if we can score one, you’ll more often than not go on to win 1-0.
“That’s been the difference throughout the season between us and the likes of Gillingham and Port Vale. The number of times they’ve both done that – that’s why they are right up there.
“You look at the way Gillingham beat us at our place. There was nothing in the game but they went home with three points and for them, that was the perfect away performance.
“It’s so important that you grind out those wins and it’s easier if you defend well. York were quite direct and the lads handled them and then I thought we nullified Port Vale.”
City left Vale Park frustrated not to have turned their second-half domination into victory. Among the flurry of chances, McArdle had a shot kicked off the line from a Gary Jones corner.
He admitted: “Gaz’s delivery is always spot on and I managed to hook it in but didn’t see what happened after that. I was told it was cleared off the line, then somebody else just missed it and it was cleared again.
“On another night, it could have been 2-0 or 3-0. But as a whole, you take a lot of positives from a point and performance like that.”
City host the 19th-placed Shots before hitting the road once more for a Devon double-header at Plymouth and Exeter. A first home league win in 2013 is crucial to set that up.
McArdle said: “Aldershot are fighting for their lives and it’s important we start well. Get an early goal and that will settle everyone down.
“It’s so important we win going into a long week ahead, because there’s a lot of travelling which affects people in different ways.”