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Tuesday, 11 December, 2018

Brilliant Bradford can tame Lions at Wembley

The Bantams seem to relish playing in front of big crowds

Bradford's Nicky Law could have a big part to play at Wembley
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Sky Bet League One playoff final
Sky Sports 1, 3pm Saturday

The biggest clubs have punched their weight in Sky Bet League One this season and Bradford can follow in the footsteps of promoted duo Sheffield United and Bolton by defeating Millwall in the playoff final at Wembley.

Bradford are the second best-supported team in the third tier, averaging 18,167 per league game.

They seem to enjoy playing in front of big crowds and are unbeaten in all of their 23 home league games this season - a feat matched only by Tottenham in the top four English divisions.

Coping with the pressure of a huge match at Wembley will be an even bigger challenge.

However, Bradford did a fantastic job on the same stage four years ago, destroying Northampton 3-0 in the League Two playoff final, and may look to tap into the experience of defenders Rory McArdle and James Meredith, who played the full match against the Cobblers.

Millwall have far more players with experience of Wembley but their experience is mostly negative with the Lions having lost 3-1 to Barnsley in last season's League One playoff final.

The Lions looked shattered at the final whistle and the hangover seemed to extend beyond the start of this season.

Neil Harris stayed on as manager last summer and kept a largely settled squad but they made an uncertain start and after 13 games they were in 20th place, outside the relegation zone only on goal difference.

The response was impressive and Millwall had forced themselves into the top six by mid-February.

However, they lost their way towards the end of the campaign, winning only four of the last 11 matches - and were thankful for a dip in results from rivals Southend, who finished one point behind them.

Millwall always pose a threat thanks to the goalscoring instincts of strikers Lee Gregory and Steve Morison and winger Aiden O'Brien, whose league tallies amounted to 17, 11 and 13.

But there have been question marks over their defence and their goals-conceded total of 57 was the highest among the top eight.

Bradford have conceded just 43 and were rock-solid in their playoff semi-final, keeping successive clean sheets against third-placed Fleetwood.

Getting past the Cod Army was an important step, showing they had learned from last season's 4-2 aggregate semi-final loss to Millwall.

Matches between the teams this season have been tight with 1-1 draws played out in Yorkshire and south London and there is a clear expectation of another close encounter with under 2.5 goals priced up no bigger than 6-10. Expectations of a tight match may be borne out.

Bradford are not all about defending. They are spearheaded by powerful target man Charlie Wyke, who is arguably the most potent forward on either team.

Wyke, a January signing from League Two Carlisle, has scored 21 league goals this season and can play his part in taking Bradford into the second tier for the first time since 2004.

1pt 15-8 Betfair

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Team news
Bradford have reported no fresh injuries and Stuart McCall could stick with the same 11 who started the 0-0 draw at Fleetwood in the playoff semi-final second leg 13 days ago.

Shaun Cummings (knee) has not played since February but is close to a return. No fresh injuries have been reported.

Key stat
Bradford have lost two of their last 16 matches. 

Bradford have conceded just 43 goals and were rock-solid in their playoff semi-final, keeping successive clean sheets against third-placed Fleetwood
E.W. Terms
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