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Tom Pope goal for Port Vale still rankles Bradford City ahead of JP Trophy tie
Phil Parkinson has admitted City will be gunning for revenge when they bid to dump promotion rivals Port Vale out of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy tonight.
Vale pilfered the League Two points with a classic smash-and-grab raid at Valley Parade in September thanks to a solitary strike from prolific frontman Tom Pope.
Parkinson admits that defeat has given his side extra motivation to progress in this evening’s Northern Section quarter-final and maintain their quest for glory on all four fronts.
The City boss will hand a recall to Jon McLaughlin ahead of regular first-choice goalkeeper Matt Duke as the Bantams aim to avenge their last meeting with Micky Adams’ men.
Parkinson said: “Let’s be honest, we played exceptionally well that day and on the balance of play we should have won.
“We had 19 or 20 attempts at goal – it was ridiculous – but Port Vale got the all-important goal.
“Tom Pope has been the difference for them this season. He’s been on fire and unstoppable at times.
“Keeping him in check is a good challenge for our back four but one we’re looking forward to.
“We owe Vale one and we’re going there to win. If we can get a result then we’re two rounds away from going to Wembley.”
Tonight’s clash continues City’s gruelling run of fixtures and is the first of eight matches in December.
Yet Parkinson is not complaining and said the collective desire of his squad has left them well-equipped to deal with such a punishing schedule.
“We’re in a lot of competitions at the moment but we’re enjoying it,” he said.
“It’s also given me a chance to utilise the squad to its maximum, which is very important because we haven’t got many reserve fixtures.
“I’ve said all along that the league is our priority but confidence is a great thing in football.
“You look at the spirit that the lads showed to come back in the FA Cup replay against Northampton and then Bristol Rovers in the league last week.
“We were down three times in that game but kept coming back. That kind of spirit and desire within the squad is evident every week.
“We’ve got to keep it like that because it can take you a long way. It certainly has so far this season.”
Parkinson could hand opportunities to the likes of Craig Forsyth, Carl McHugh and Ritchie Jones but McLaughlin will definitely play.
“We’ve made five or six changes in this competition but every player here is ready to play first-team football,” said the City chief.
“Sometimes the midweek games, putting in players with fresh legs, can be the best way of getting through these games. So far that has worked well for us.
“Jon McLaughlin is going to play and he has actually been very unlucky. He and Matt Duke have been vying for that number one spot and Jon has done nothing wrong at all.
“It’s just Dukey came in and has done so well, but both keepers are pushing each other in training every day. They’ve got a good friendship but they have got a good rivalry as well.
“Jon gets a crack at it at Port Vale and we’re lucky to have them both.”
City (possible): McLaughlin, Darby, Naylor, Good, McHugh, Turgott, Ravenhill, R Jones, Forsyth, Connell, Thompson.
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