City return to the Northern Commercials Stadium at Valley Parade this Saturday (17 September 2016) after a couple of weeks away to face recently promoted Bristol Rovers in Sky Bet League One. Stuart McCall’s men have drawn the last three matches and will be hoping to get back to winning ways against a side looking to establish themselves in the division after a significant absence.
Rovers without doubt will be still glowing from the back-to-back promotions which has seen them rise from the Vanarama National league to League One in under 24 months.
So far this season, Darrell Clarke’s men have picked up six points from their first six matches and have managed to score in every game they’ve played this season.
Managing to retain the services of Matty Taylor could prove key for the Pirates after the influential forward scored 28 goals in all competitions last season. The former Forest Green Rovers front-man has already scored six this season in all competitions.
He scored in Bristol’s mid-week draw against Walsall and scored a brace in their 2-2 draw against Rochdale last weekend.
Head to Head:
The two sides haven’t met since April 2013 with the Bantams en route to a place in the League Two play-offs and a subsequent promotion. The fixture took place on a Tuesday night and a brace from Nahki Wells and a goal from Andrew Davies put City 3-0 up at the interval.
Tom Hitchcock pulled a goal back for the Pirates after the break but Garry Thompson’s goal later in the second half put the result beyond doubt in a game which finished 4-1.
The reverse fixture at the Memorial Stadium earlier in the 2012/13 season was the first meeting between the two sides since 1996, and it was a fantastically entertaining encounter. On a rainy November day, former City defender Guy Branston scored a header after just two minutes to give the hosts the lead; Nahki Wells equalised but Tom Eaves restored the Pirates’ lead before the break.
Carl McHugh equalised for City in the second period with a bullet header but Rovers were ahead once again when Michael Smith scored just after the hour mark.
James Hanson’s terrific header levelled proceedings once again and that’s how it stayed. Eleven goals in the last two meetings between the two teams, will there be goals in tomorrow’s encounter?
For probably the first time this season, Stuart McCall is posed with a real selection headache following the return of several players after spells on the sidelines.
James Hanson made his return from a lay-off last weekend as a substitute at Gillingham and the big front-man will be hoping to get the nod at the weekend. Marc McNulty made his debut for the club last weekend, coming on as a late substitute; perhaps he could be in line to make his first start since his arrival on loan from Sheffield United.
McCall admitted he has thought about three different strike forces during the week and that he could have picked five or six different teams for the weekend’s visit of Bristol Rovers if allowed – he can only pick one team though, but who will make the cut Saturday?
Tony McMahon, Nathan Clarke and Rory McArdle have all been involved in training this week but only McMahon is expected to be considered for a place in City's match-day eighteen.
McCall has hinted that both Clarke and McArdle might need a bit more time before they will be back in contention for a return with the first team.
Rovers could make changes to the starting XI that saw them held to a midweek draw at home to Walsall. Hiram Boateng was a deadline day arrival on loan from Crystal Palace and he could battle out for a central midfield starting berth with Chris Lines and Chelsea loanee Charlie Colkett.
Matty Taylor and Ellis Harrison are the usual strike pairing for this weekend’s visitors but Rory Gaffney and former City loanee Luke James will also be hoping to be involved at some point as well.
Andy Haines will take charge of his second Bradford City fixture of the season this weekend, having already overseen the Bantams’ 2-1 victory at MK Dons last month.
He has dished out two red cards this season; to Oldham’s Ousmane Fane and Hartlepool’s Aristote Nsiala.
The Bantams were victorious on his last visit to Valley Parade in November 2015 as James Hanson’s header secured a 1-0 victory against a Blackpool side that included Colin Doyle.
The Tyne & Wear based referee, took charge of his first ever City fixture on Boxing Day 2007 with the Bantams recording a 2-1 victory against Lincoln City at Sincil Bank. Stuart McCall was of course in charge at the time, in his first spell as manager.
Here are the latest betting odds provided by the English Football League’s official betting partner, Sky Bet:
Bradford City – 4/5
Draw – 5/2
Bristol Rovers – 100/30
Jordy Hiwula bagged his second goal of the season last weekend at Gillingham; he’s 9/2 to score first tomorrow. Back new boy Marc McNulty to score in 90 minutes at 7/4.
You can listen to full match commentary on Bantams Player HD with Pulse 2 Matchday Live’s Jason Thornton and Chris Cooper providing it.
You can also follow our live updates via our official Facebook and Twitter social media channels. On there we will also bring you post-match reaction from Stuart McCall, with the full interview as always, available on Bantams Player HD.
You can read our full match report on the website also. If you can’t make it to the Northern Commercials Stadium tomorrow (Saturday), there’s no need to worry as we have you covered!