Gillingham return brings happy memories for Bradford City striker Connell (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Gillingham return brings happy memories for Bradford City striker Alan Connell
Alan Connell celebrated in defeat the last time he went to Gillingham as Swindon sealed promotion.
Now he returns with City, eyeing a victory to set his new club on the same path to success.
Connell has fond memories of that 3-1 loss in April for the scenes after the final whistle when results elsewhere confirmed Paulo Di Canio’s men were going up.
But the striker played only the first half-hour before being subbed – one of the cameo performances that became the norm for him last season.
Nineteen of his 32 league appearances came off the bench but he still finished overall top scorer with an impressive goal ratio of one every 150 minutes of action.
Having started alongside James Hanson at Notts County, Connell likes to think he has left his “supersub” days in Wiltshire.
He said: “Sometimes I didn’t know what day of the week it was, being in and out the side all the time.
“I think I scored three in three at one point and didn’t start again for the next few weeks.
“Things like that were hard to take but it’s up to me to do well here and establish myself as a Bradford player. I’m looking forward to playing as often as I can again.
“That was still a good day at Gillingham even though we lost because it’s about a whole season’s effort, not just one game.
“But it’s a very different day now and it’s important we get off to a good start.
“It’s the first game of a very long season and we couldn’t have picked a much tougher one.
“They are one of the favourites but we played well last week at Notts County and it’s important we take the good things from that into tomorrow.”
Connell linked well off Hanson at Meadow Lane and believes he is getting up to match fitness after a difficult summer before his move north.
“I feel better for the hour against Notts County and I’ve had another good week’s training since.
“I did a lot of running before I joined Bradford but was a little bit behind football-wise. But I think I’m there now.
“I enjoyed playing alongside Hans last week. He stretches the game, he’s good in the air and allows me to get on the ball and try to link things. He scored an excellent goal too.
“Hopefully the more we play together the better we become. We’ve got Nahki (Wells) and Ross (Hannah) as well, who are two excellent forwards, so there’s real competition for places.”
Gillingham nearly spoilt the Swindon promotion bash last season and Connell is determined they won’t burst the bubble of expectation surrounding City’s fortunes.
He said: “I’m sure they will come flying at us but it’s important that we start well. Just because we’re the away side, it doesn’t mean we go there and let them dictate the play.
“We need to stamp our authority on the game. It will be tough and physical but it’s important we carry out our game-plan.
“It was nice to win last week because we’ve got a lot of new players. But we can’t afford to be complacent. We have to do the basics right again tomorrow and hopefully that will be enough to come out on top.”