Crawley brawl no longer an issue for Bradford City ahead of first rematch (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Crawley brawl no longer an issue for Bradford City ahead of first rematch
Garry Thompson insists City can shrug off their Tranmere trip-up going into a tough sequence of games
Phil Parkinson has banished any thoughts of his blackest night in management as City kick off a testing schedule at Crawley tomorrow.
The visit to Sussex begins an eight-day spell that will also see the Bantams square up to high-flying Preston and Wolves.
The Crawley game will be the first time the teams have met since that infamous post-match brawl at Valley Parade 19 months ago – which saw five players sent off and another later banned.
The City boss said: “I haven’t even mentioned it (to the squad). A lot of players have changed since then.
“There was a lot of tension in the air that night for obvious reasons and it was probably the lowest point of my career. But we’ve come through it, worked hard and come out the other side.”
City are gunning for a third away win on the trot after the frustration of last week’s home loss to Tranmere. But Richie Barker’s Crawley are unbeaten in six and hot on their tails just outside the play-off zone.
Parkinson said: “We’re not coming up against a team who will sit back and put ten men behind the ball. They are a good team who have started well.
“I saw them at Wolves and Sheffield United and enjoyed watching them play. But it’s the start of a great week for us and we’re looking for a response.
“We’re going to Crawley, who are a team tipped to do well this season, then we play Preston and Wolves. This is what it’s all about.
“We know what we’ve got to do. We know our strengths and structure of the team and the lads are in good shape physically.
“We go there fourth in the table, so we go into a big week in a great position.”
Midfielder Garry Thompson will use the frustration of the Tranmere trip-up as an extra motivation to maintain City’s lofty position among the early pace-setters.
He said: “We want to put last week to bed. Everyone was bitterly disappointed because it was a game we should have won and maybe with a couple of decisions it would have gone our way.
“But training’s been sharp this week and the lads can’t wait to get back out there and hopefully put some points on the board.
“Looking at the bigger picture, it’s the start of three massive games and we need to begin that right.
“Crawley are a good footballing team and we’re under no illusions that it’s going to be easy. But we feel we’re a match for anybody.”
City will be keen not to lose any momentum against three sides expected to be in the League One promotion mix.
Thompson insists the squad continue to look upwards and said: “Everyone’s thinking about putting this club where they should be – and we believe that’s in the Championship at least.
“We have started the season well and the table is taking shape. There’s no reason why we can’t carry on.
“We’ve had some tough games up to now, home and away, and stood up to them really well. We’re confident we can go from strength to strength.
“There are some great lads who aren’t even in the team at the moment and that shows the high standard. There’s no room for anyone to get complacent.”
Parkinson was delighted to see McArdle play the full game in Tel Aviv as Northern Ireland drew with Israel and said: “It’s great for Rozza. He’s a player who benefits when he keeps going.
“You look at the players he’s competing with and he’s right up with them. That’s why I was disappointed in the past that he’s got called up and not had any game time.
“It’s got to have done his confidence good and I think (Northern Ireland manager) Michael O’Neill has praised him in the press. He’s been part of a good result and they needed one after recently.”
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