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Kick off 19:00 (UK)

14 May 2023 Venue University of Bradford Stadium Attendance

Kick off 19:00 (UK)

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English Football League - League Two

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Match Previews

PREVIEW: Play-off semi-final first-leg at Bradford

A look ahead to Sunday's game

12 May 2023

Bradford City v Carlisle United, League Two play-off semi-final first-leg, Sunday 14 May, kick off 7pm


Bradford went into their final game of the season against Orient knowing that a draw would be enough to secure a play-off spot, but nerves must have been jangling when they fell behind to Jordan Brown's well-taken goal.

They quickly eased the fears of missing out when Brad Halliday caught the ball on the volley two minutes later. 

Just the two defeats from the last 16 games is a demonstration of a team that is very hard to beat, and that includes a run of 11 games without a loss through February, March and April.

But we're at that stage where the 46 games that have gone before count only for the fact that they made the play-offs a reality.

It's now down to which of the two teams handles the occasion (home and away) - which will be shown live on Sky Sports - better. 

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A haul of 31 goals from 50 appearances has made it a season to remember for former United youth striker Andy Cook.

Four goals from his last four outings bring him into the play-off fray in good form, and there's no doubt he'd like to notch against the club where it all started for him.

Strong and athletic, he can hold the ball up and link the play, and he has a real eye for the nets if you give him half a glimpse. 


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  Bradford wins Draws Carlisle wins
League 21 14 17
Cup 0 0 1
League Cup 0 1 1
FA Cup 1 0 1
Total 22 15 20

It was 0-0 at Valley Parade in March 2023 as both teams battled hard to maintain a clean sheet.

Watch the highlights from that game here:

The home game on Boxing Day in 2022 ended with a 1-0 victory for the Blues thanks to a first half header from Paul Huntington.

Watch the highlights from that game here:

United's final game of the 21/22 season was a 2-0 away defeat at Valley Parade. Lee Angol and Jamie Walker scored either side of the break for the hosts.

Watch the highlights from that game here:

These teams met in Carlisle in January 2022 and goals from former Bantams Omari Patrick and Jordan Gibson sealed the deal for the hosts.

Watch the highlights from that fixture here:

March 2021 brought the Bantams to Brunton Park as Rhys Bennett (2) and Ozzy Zanzala opened up a three-goal lead. Paudie O'Connor bagged a consolation, but the points stayed in Cumbria.

Watch the highlights from that game here:

Rhys Bennett bagged the only goal of the game in December 2020 to earn the Cumbrians a deserved away win.

Watch the highlights from that game here:

A game blighted by red cards went the way of the Bantams back in September, as they bagged three in response to Olufela Olomola's early opener, but the match became a difficult one to measure for the Blues following a first-half sending off for Jack Bridge.

Watch the highlights from that game here:

We hadn't seen Bradford prior to that since the 1-0 home victory at Brunton Park back in February 2014. Striker Lee Miller scored the only goal of the game - and it was an absolute stunner - and keeping goal for the Blues that night was a certain young man called Jordan Pickford.

Watch the highlights from that game here:

A more recent meeting between the teams was the July 2018 pre-season friendly, played at Brunton Park. It was a tight game with the winner coming in time added on when Richie Bennett got on the end of a deflected Hallam Hope shot.

Watch the highlights from that game here:


Referee - Ross Joyce
Assistant Referee 1 - Lisa Rashid
Assistant Referee 2 - Leigh Crowhurst
Fourth Official - Scott Oldham
Observer - Colin Webster
Reserve Assistant Referee - Ravel Cheosiaua

Our referee for today's game is Mr Ross Joyce. Ross has taken charge of 29 games so far this season and has shown 116 yellows and six reds.

John-Kymani Gordon scored early at Spotland in January 2023 and the visitors held on to claim all three points, with Mr Joyce at the helm for that encounter. Gordon was also booked, as were Morgan Feeney and Paul Huntington.

We saw him at Brunton Park for a rather dour 0-0 draw with Crewe in October 2022. Paul Huntington was booked in a game that had little other action.

He was in Carlisle again in April 2022 for our 1-0 home win over Mansfield. Omari Patrick scored the second half winner and the hosts had four players booked in what was a bit of a slog of a game - Jack Armer, Brennan Dickenson, Omari Patrick and Dynel Simeu.

We saw Ross at the Globe Arena in November 2021 when goals from Kelvin Mellor and Jordan Gibson secured progression to the knockout stages for the Blues in the Papa John's Trophy. No Carlisle names were taken that night.

Prior to that he was the man in the middle for a tetchy encounter with Bolton Wanderers on Boxing Day in 2020. Aaron Hayden, Lewis Alessandra and Omari Patrick helped us to storm into a three-goal lead on what was a terrible day weather wise, but George Thomason, Nathan Delfouneso and Peter Kioso used the gale force wind to their advantage to peg us back. Kioso was sent off in time added on for the game, with Paul Farman, Rhys Bennett, Joe Riley and Jon Mellish having their names taken for the home side.

He was also at Brunton Park in October 2020 for our 3-1 home win over Morecambe. Jon Mellish and George Tanner added to an own goal from Songo'o as the Blues ran out as convincing 3-1 victors, and Joe Riley was the only home yellow to be shown. 

Ross was with us in March 2019 for our long away trip to Rodney Parade. Goals either side of the break sunk the Blues, and Anthony Gerrard had his name written down on the day.

He was in Cumbria for our December 2019 2-1 home win over Macclesfield. Hallam Hope and Jerry Yates scored our goals and Gerrard, Devitt and Yates were the Carlisle names which went in the book.

The first time we saw him that same season was for the Carabao Cup meeting with Blackburn Rovers in August 2019. Hallam Hope scored United's goal, but it was an emphatic win for Rovers on the night as braces from Bradley Dack and Adam Armstrong were complemented by a neat finish from Kasey Palmer. Kelvin Etuhu was the only Carlisle yellow card shown.


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Match Reports

MATCH REPORT: Bantams 1 - 0 United

Report from the Sunday evening first-leg game

14 May 2023

United were at Valley Parade in front of the Sky TV cameras on Sunday night as the teams came together for their League Two play-off semi-final first-leg meeting.

Manager Paul Simpson made two changes from the side that earned a 1-1 draw at Sutton with Joe Garner and Joel Senior in for Kris Dennis and Jack Robinson respectively.

Both sets of fans were up for it with a fantastic atmosphere to accompany the build-up and the blowing of the first whistle, but there were clear nerves to be doused as passes and clearances went astray through the opening exchanges.

The first test for Holy was a long ball over the top that Cook chased. The stopper got there first with his thigh and Whelan completed the clearance.

Moxon was excellent with a sliding challenge inside his own box as Banks looked to break through, but there were huge appeals for a penalty at the other end when United broke. Senior and McCalmont had an overload, and it was the midfielder who surged onwards. He appeared to be dragged to the floor by Crichlow when he spun into the danger area but the referee ignored the appeals.

Neat play from the Bantams saw them keep possession high up the pitch on 10 minutes with Gilliead, Halliday and Clayton seeing plenty of it. Cook found himself in unexpected space when it came his way but he was wayward with a powerful drive from distance.

Tenacity from Senior right in front of the 2,440 away fans earned a free kick, and Moxon placed it to send it in. It fell nicely for Barclay and Armer, who both leaped to meet it, but a touch from the pair of of them took the sting out of it and Lewis was able to drop down to gather it.

An instinctive volley from Garner clipped the top of the bar as he linked with Patrick on the right flank, but the whistle had gone for a handball during the build up.

The Blues were undone on 18 minutes when another ball forward brought a cushioned header on the 18-yard line. That left Walker in space, and he was able to take a touch before drilling it underneath the stranded Tomas Holy.

A way through for Garner, Armer and Patrick was shut down as they tried to stay tight and find a hole, and it was almost perfect football as Moxon and Garner linked moments later to carve a way through. A slightly heavy touch allowed the tackle to be made.

Bradford got forward in numbers on the half hour with Smallwood at the forefront in midfield. He threaded a pass to Cook, and he clipped it to the back stick as he looked for support. It was cleared, but Walker and Banks were alert and they recycled the move. The lively Walker was a whisker away as he rifled it just past the upright from a very tight angle.

Carlisle played more eyecatching stuff as they moved the ball out of their own half at pace. Guy picked out Moxon, and he spread it wide to McCalmont. Blue shirts split left and right, and it was fed back for Moxon to cross. That was put behind for a corner, and there was controversy as a flick from the set piece struck Stubbs on the chest. It bounced a yard wide, but the away team were incensed when a goal kick was given.

McCalmont was felled just before the break as he tried to skip free down the left, and Moxon was once more on free kick duty. It was met by Whelan at the back post but he was on the stretch and he was disappointed to see it rise high.

Armer was strong in the challenge in time added on for the half and his raking pass down the touchline sent Patrick on a sprint. He was stopped in his tracks as he reached the bye line.

Holy had to be at his best with the last attack of the half when Banks got his head down to run with it at his feet. He poked it through chasing legs as he went into the box but the big stopper got down to get his hand to it, and it stuck, with him gathering it up before the loose pieces could be swept away.

A deflected Cook shot brought a corner with just 22 seconds on the second half clock, but that was cleared by Huntington.

Walker stumbled and eventually fell to the floor when he took a ball to the face from short range, but he recovered quickly and the concussion substitution protocol was avoided.

McCalmont sent one right at Lewis on the volley after a long throw from Barclay had been nodded his way, and Carlisle had numbers to spare when Smallwood misplaced  apass in midfield. McCalmont rolled it for Garner to take on but he was quickly closed down.

Gilliead was next to pull the trigger, but he was twice charged down, and Smallwood was also smothered as he tried to find a shot. Clayton brought an end to that move when he sliced a wild effort into the stands.

A pulsing run from Edmondson gave Carlisle a corner as he had it robbed off his toe, and the awy fans thought they'd equalised as Whelan jumped to meet the Moxon inswinger. It was on target but it lacked power and Lewis was comfortable as he stepped across to claim it.

Carlisle had a real chance to level things up on 68 minutes when Crichlow tried to shield a ball out of play. Edmondson was having none of it, and he used strength to wrestle the ball into his path. He managed to strike low and under Lewis, but Armer was disappointed as he arrived late to rattle it into the side netting.

Whelan was on the end of yet another Moxon corner, but it was off the top of his head on this occasion and it looped high over the target.

There was action at both ends and Huntington was excellent as he got in the way of Cook, who had let one go from 20-yards having been fed through by Gilliead.

The Cumbrians should have been on the scoresheet on 75 minutes when Armer whipped a beauty into the mix from the left wing. Edmondson lost his marker, but he somehow put his close range header on the dive over when it looked like he was about to spark the celebrations.

United kept knocking on the door, but the creaking back line somehow survived the scares, as Whelan, Armer and Senior sent testers into the box.

A late chance came the way of the Blues when Dennis was played clean through by Charters, but Lewis was off his line smartly to close things down. The striker was forced wide and his effort on the spin sailed past the nets.

There being no further incident of note it was left as all to play for in the second leg next Saturday.



Bradford City - Walker (18)



Carlisle United - Whelan (8), Garner (32)



Bradford City - Lewis, Halliday, Ridehalgh, Smallwood (c), Cook, Walker (Osadebe 65), Gilliead, Banks (Platt 7), Crichlow, Stubbs, Clayton (Derbyshire 87). Subs - Doyle (gk), East, Pereira, Nevers.

Carlisle United - Holy, Barclay, Huntington (c), Whelan, Senior (Gibson 85), McCalmont, Guy (Charters 69), Moxon, Armer, Patrick (Dennis 58), Garner (Edmondson 58). Subs - Kelly (gk), Robinson, Harris.


Match officials

Referee - Ross Joyce
Assistant Referee 1 - Lisa Rashid
Assistant Referee 2 - Leigh Crowhurst
Fourth Official - Scott Oldham
Observer - Colin Webster
Reserve Assistant Referee - Ravel Cheosiaua


Attendance - 20,575 (2,415)

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