Bradford City v Dartford

In a first F.A Cup second round tie in thirty years Dartford will need to cause a major upset against League One side Bradford City, if they want to make the potentially lucrative third round draw.

Having been drawn away to the former Premier League club and the 2013 League Cup runners up, the Darts will have no pressure at Valley Parade as they hope to create some club history. Manager, Tony Burman was a member of the squad that reached the second round in 1984 when a 1-1 draw with Bournemouth earned a replay. The third round was drawn after the stalemate at Watling Street and Manchester United awaited the winners, unfortunately the Cherries won 4-1 in the replay.

Dartford will not have the luxury of a home tie this time, however if they are able to take Bradford City back to Princes Park then it will be an outstanding result. The last time the Darts faced Football League opposition was only four years ago and a 1-1 home draw with Port Vale, then in League Two, earned a replay. At Vale Park, Dartford went out of the F.A Cup in a 4-0 defeat, over the two fixtures five of the current squad had a part to play.

Elliot Bradbrook, Ryan Hayes, Lee Burns, Danny Harris and Lee Noble all experienced the first round fixture four years ago. Together with Jason Brown, Mat Mitchel-King and Harry Crawford the majority of the squad have experience of Football League grounds. However, no one other than Peter Sweeney has graced the Wembley turf in a F.A Cup final. Back in 2004, the then 19 year old featured for Championship club Millwall in their 3-0 loss against a Cristiano Ronaldo inspired Manchester United.

A poor run of form has left Dartford fourth from bottom in the Conference Premier. On Tuesday night a 2-0 loss at Eastleigh recorded the clubs fourth straight defeat in just over two weeks. Burman knows he needs to lift his side’s morale as well as league standing, he spoke to “People are just upset with the situation, like we all are. We’ve all got to try to get things together, back on track. It’s difficult but I’ve got to try to lift the players”.

Away from home the Darts continue to struggle following five league defeats in a row at Bristol Rovers, Grimsby Town, Lincoln City, Forest Green Rovers and Eastleigh. The only respite was seven goal nail biter in the F.A Cup first round at Bromley. Tom Bradbrook scored what turned out to be the winner as the Darts won 4-3, Ryan Hayes and Danny Harris were also amongst the scorers. To get to the proper rounds Dartford comfortably beat Isthmian Division One South side Burgess Hill Town, two goals from Harry Crawford and a penalty by Elliot Bradbrook gave the Darts a 3-1 victory.

Bradford City know all about shocks and visited Wembley twice in the same season in 2013. On the way to the League Cup final the Yorkshire club giant killed their way to the final. Notts County, Watford and Burton Albion were knocked out which featured two games going to extra time. Then came a string of Premier League sides, Wigan Athletic were taking care of in a penalty shoot out and in round five the Bantams created their biggest upset of all. Arsenal were taken the distance with a 1-1 draw after extra time in which The Bantams led for most of the tie, Bradford City won 3-2 on penalties to reach the semi-final. Aston Villa were the next victims, after a 3-1 win at Valley Parade, Bradford City lost 2-1 at Villa Park but proceeded 4-3 on aggregate. The final was a step too far as the attractive passing style of Swansea City took the League Cup to Wales as the Jacks won 5-0.

At least Bantams could smile come May, a seventh place finish in League Two entered the club into the playoffs. A comfortable 3-0 Wembley win against Northampton Town ensured League One football where the club remains. Bradford City were close to making it a hat-trick of Wembley visits but lost the Football League Trophy semi-final to Crewe Alexandra.

Phil Parkinson masterminded the cup run and promotion, last season he consolidated the Bantams position in League One finishing eleventh. This term they occupy tenth, four points off the playoff spots and unbeaten in the last four competitive matches. In the F.A Cup first round they faced a tough challenge away to FC Halifax Town and despite being favourites they were pushed all the way. Lois Maynard put the hosts ahead at the Shay after only three minutes in the West Yorkshire derby. In the space of three second half minutes Bradford City turned the game around. Former Premier League striker Jon Stead equalised five minutes after the break and Filipe Morais scored the winner.

The Bantams boss has told that he expects his players standards to remain high. Parkinson does not intend to take Dartford lightly and will use the experience of the last round against FC Halifax Town. The Bradford City manager has had staff attend Dartford matches over the last four matches and has even watched a game himself in preparation.

F.A Cup Finest Moments

77 – Years since Dartford last made it to the F.A Cup third round. The Darts had reached the third round the season before losing 3-2 to a Derby County side second in the top flight. At the Baseball Ground, Dartford led 2-0 after 35 minutes but the superiority of the Rams shone through with three unanswered goals. A year later, Dartford reached the third round once more and lost out to Darlington in a 1-0 defeat.

103 – Years since Bradford City won the F.A Cup when they beat Newcastle United in a replay. The first match at Crystal Palace ended 0-0 with the replay played at Old Trafford. Captain, Jimmy Speirs scored the only goal after fifteen minutes to give the Bantams their only major honour.

Team News

Harry Crawford and Andy Pugh has left Dartford short of options up front due to injuries the pair have picked up. Bradley Tarbuck has joined the squad on loan from League Two Portsmouth and so far has made two substitute appearances. Lee Burns continues to be sidelined and Rory McAuley will return from his one match suspension for five cautions. Danny Harris and Elliot Bradbrook are on four bookings but the cut off date on 30 November means they avoid suspension if they reach five.

Portuguese midfielder Morais missed the Leyton Orient win and may return this Sunday. Matthew Dolan has been let out on loan to Hartlepool United.

Current Form

Bradford City (WDWWLL) Dartford (LLLLDW)
Leyton Orient  H  3-1 Eastleigh  A  0-2
Gillingham  H  1-1 Forest Green Rovers  A  1-2
Preston North End  A  2-1 Chester  H  2-4
FC Halifax Town  A  2-1 Lincoln City  A  0-1
Doncaster Rovers  H  1-2 Southport  H  1-1
Oldham Athletic  A  1-2 Welling United  H

F.A Cup Performances Last Ten Years



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