Bradford City new boy Callum Johnson feels the club ‘just ran out of time’ last season in their bid for promotion and has called on them to take that late momentum they built up into a strong start to the 2024/25 League Two season.

That served Johnson’s previous club Mansfield perfectly, with the right back a key part of the side that did not lose a League Two game last term until November 25.

Both they and the Bantams ended the season strongly too, and while that was enough to get Mansfield over the automatic promotion line in third place, City fell just short of their play-off goal.

Johnson mused: “If there’d been another one or two games, Bradford probably would have made it into the play-offs, and you never know what would have happened from there.

“It’s just about timing and getting on a run at the right moment.

“Look at Doncaster, they were really low down in the table around Christmas time and they ended up going on a mad run to reach the play-offs.

“Injuries can obviously affect things but it is about getting on that right run and it’s not necessarily luck, but it’s things all falling into place.

“I kept an eye on Bradford last year, especially because I know a few of the lads at the club.

“Hopefully next season, we can have some luck on our side, the fans on our side and go on a run, especially early on.

“If we can do that, it should stand us in good stead.”

And Johnson speaks from experience, with Mansfield going unbeaten in their first 18 league games last season.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: This goalless draw between Mansfield and City in September was part of the former's 18-game unbeaten run in League Two at the start of last season.This goalless draw between Mansfield and City in September was part of the former's 18-game unbeaten run in League Two at the start of last season. (Image: Thomas Gadd.)

From mid-October onwards, they never fell out of the top four, and were thoroughly deserving of their automatic promotion spot, as they finished eight points clear of fourth-placed MK Dons.

That was not Johnson’s first rodeo either, as he was a key part of the Accrington side that won League Two in 2017-18 when he was only 21.

Stanley looked anything but champions elect heading into February, but then a 15-game unbeaten run saw them storm to the summit late on.

Johnson reflected: “It was similar at Mansfield to what we had at Accrington, where we got the momentum of winning games and we knew we were going to do that.

“When I was playing at Mansfield in the first half of the season, we were always confident going into matches, and while I was out injured after that, we just kept that momentum up.

“We were almost rolling into games knowing we were going to win them and it’s been similar both times I’ve been promoted out of League Two.

“Even if you play badly, like Mansfield did in January just after I got injured where we didn’t win for four games in a row, we knew we had the experience and balance in the squad to turn it around.”

And that unshakeable belief served Mansfield well last term, as they always seemed to win when it mattered.

The most notable victory of all was their stunning 4-1 triumph at promotion rivals MK Dons in mid-April, which pretty much sealed their top-three berth and condemned their hosts to what was ultimately an unsuccessful tilt at the play-offs.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Davis Keillor-Dunn scores in Mansfield's win at MK Dons in April, with those three points virtually sealing automatic promotion for the Stags.Davis Keillor-Dunn scores in Mansfield's win at MK Dons in April, with those three points virtually sealing automatic promotion for the Stags. (Image: PA.)

Johnson said: “You’ll always find you’ll have six-pointers throughout a season and we always seemed to come out on top in our must-win games.

“We did the double over Notts County when they were flying, including on TV when they were top, and we won at Stockport in a huge game on New Year’s Day.

“The one that sticks out is the victory at MK Dons in mid-April.

“Those were almost games you knew you had to win, and then when you do, you look back on them at the end of the season and remember how big they were.

“That MK Dons game, if they’d have beaten us, you never know what would have happened for us with automatic promotion.

“We were on the right side of all the big games last season and that was important.”