THE empty rows in the main stand strewn with abandoned clappers told their own story.

There had been a party all right - but the hosts had never shown up.

Instead, it was the gate crashers having an absolute ball; the supposed wallflowers had marched to the centre of the dance floor and taken over.

The strains of “Rocking all over the world” adopted in West Yorkshire fashion to serenade the super man in goal.

The home fans could not scramble up the hill that overlooks Sixfields quick enough to escape a City shindig to which they had not been invited.

However, this campaign pans out, one thing is for sure. City are refusing to go quietly.

A week before, the desolation that surrounded Valley Parade following Gillingham’s last-gasp equaliser appeared to signal the end of the automatic promotion dream.

The top three were disappearing over the horizon - getting out of this awful division would involve the extra toil and tension of the play-offs.

But the Bantams are still stubbornly hanging in there after some stoppage-time heroics of their own. The rank outsider in the three-club tussle for third spot, for sure, but at least in the argument.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Andy Cook leaps to head his 30th goal of the seasonAndy Cook leaps to head his 30th goal of the season (Image: Thomas Gadd)

That’s more than can be said for Carlisle or Salford. Potential play-off opponents, probably, but right now we can continue to fantasise about the ultimate prize.

City will still need big favours from elsewhere even if they do pick off the two wins to put them in the hunt.

Northampton must fail to beat Tranmere and Stockport have to trip up at home to already-doomed Hartlepool.

But the Cobblers, more than most, know that strange things happen at the end of the season. Bristol Rovers scoring seven, anyone?

Ghosts of 12 months ago are sure to be looming in the thoughts of every Northampton fan in the long and anxious wait for their trek to Prenton Park.

Stockport would appear to have the more straightforward task on the back of their impressive win at champions Leyton Orient.

But teams who are down and out can be unpredictable animals.

Pools, like Rochdale, won handsomely after their relegation was confirmed. And maybe the prospect of Jeff Stelling finally quitting his Sky Sports perch will inspire them to deliver an emotional send-off?

We’ll cling to anything right now!

But first City must maintain their end of the bargain. Like an old railway timetable, all routes point to Crewe and the three more points needed to keep the excitement churning until the final day.

Any positive outcome from Gresty Road on Wednesday will secure a ticket to the play-offs but, while it is still remotely possible, we want more.



What a change from the usual drudgery at this time of the year when the Bantams meander to the finish line as they tick off a run of pointless contests.

This, as every player will keep telling you, is what football is about. These are the games you play for - or travel the length and breadth of the country to scream your heart out.

And how the 948 fans in the away section of a sold-out crowd, not to mention those who snuck in the home seats or looked on from a bird’s eye view on the hill, partied when the final whistle was blown.

Seconds before they had erupted as Romoney Crichlow headed into the net from a few feet in front of the City stand; delicious redemption for a player castigated for his previous error to such an extent that some brain-deads had felt fit to send him the vilest of threats on social media.

What do they think of their actions now? Frankly, who gives a damn.

In the real world, Crichlow has been a much-loved figure in claret and amber this season and that affection was clear 10 times over in the jubilation that followed.

His first goal as a Bantam was just one of the numerous storylines spilling out from this glorious story.

Andy Cook, with his 30th goal of the season and the assist to put Crichlow’s winner on a plate.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: It was a tense watch at times for City's travelling fansIt was a tense watch at times for City's travelling fans (Image: Thomas Gadd)

And Harry Lewis, super Harry Lewis in goal, with the elastic-limbed heroics to keep Northampton at bay during their second-half barrage.

Even Sam Hoskins, the man that “robbed” Cook of his rightful player honours in City eyes, hitting the bar. Agonisingly close but not quite enough - City’s number nine will tell him how that feels like.

Not that Cook seemed unduly bothered by the award that got away as he savoured his own party with the supporters.

He’s moved on but no doubt with an added menace bubbling under the surface from that sense of personal injustice.

Cook is only the sixth Bantam to reach the 30-goal milestone in a season - and first for 40 years since the legendary Bobby Campbell. But there’s no suggestion of him declaring with two games, at least, to go.

The Northampton crowd, like others before them, made the fatal error of laughing at an early missed chance. Just like the Hulk, you don’t want to make him angry.

The home scorn followed a snatched early shot created by a backheel from Thierry Nevers and low cross from the ever-reliable Liam Ridehalgh. Cook controlled well but then jabbed wide - to the howls from behind the goal.

Fast forward to City’s first and only corner. Scott Banks put it in an inviting area and Cook powered goal-side of Shaun McWilliams to plant his header past keeper Lee Burge.

The inevitable “tour” of the Cobblers fans followed with finger placed firmly over his lips. They certainly piped down on his command.

Then Lewis came to the party when Northampton inevitably ramped it up after the break.

The Cobblers went more direct and balls rained in on the City box.



Lewis produced his first key save to deny Kieron Bowie but had no chance from the equaliser just after the hour, Sean Dyche’s son Max burying his first senior goal from inside the six-yard box.

The visitors could have imploded at that point under the weight of constant Northampton pressure.

But Lewis pulled another one out the bag from substitute Harvey Lintott before stretching every inch of his 6ft 4in frame to turn away a Sam Sherring header that had the home support already up celebrating.

He even got a finger on the Hoskins half-volley that fired into the ground before looping up and onto the top of the woodwork.

But in this season of late goals, the one-man show at one end would be usurped by another dramatic climax at the other.

Cook was bundled over by Dyche to present City with one final opportunity.

Richie Smallwood swung the free-kick towards the far post where Cook jumped between two markers to divert it Crichlow’s way and he was never going to miss.

Two games to go and the Bantams continue to rock. All together now, "I like it, I like it …"