If they’re being honest, this is probably a fixture that Bradford fans have been dreading for some time. The once-mighty Bantams have been reduced to playing those little upstarts Harrogate Town in a competitive league game. Paul Jewell’s Dad’s Army feels like a lifetime ago. And, well, it is if you’re 22.
Way back in the Premiership glory days, Harrogate was nothing more than the posh place 20 miles up the road amongst the Bradford fanbase. How time flies and fortunes change.
However, it’s not 1998 anymore and Bradford are nothing more than also-rans in the basement of the Football League, finishing last season in 9th before everything was cut short because of you know what. For Harrogate Town, this is the one they’ve been dreaming of.
They’ve risen from the Conference North to the Football League and crowned their ascent with a stonking 4-0 win on the opening day. All that goes out the window on Monday night though, as there’s precious League Two points on the line in front of a sadly empty Valley Parade for the first instalment of an all-new Yorkshire derby.
19:45 Bradford v Harrogate
Sky Sports Football
Harrogate have been infuriatingly difficult to predict this season as their 4-0 win on the opening day showed in microcosm. That was followed by a 2-2 draw with Walsall, 0-0 with Port Vale and their first EFL defeat last week to Bolton. Just as we started to think, hang on, they might actually be quite good, they go and lose to The Trotters who had suffered defeat in all three games up to that point.
Bradford drew their first two (including a thrilling 2-2 with Forest Green in which they had two sent off and conceded a 90th-minute equaliser) before getting the W at the third attempt against Stevenage last Saturday. So, where does all this leave us? Well, frankly, a little confused.
One thing that I think we can confidently say is that the honeymoon is over for Harrogate and I expect the wily and battle-hardened Bradford to put their probably quite polite and respectful neighbours in their place.
Harrogate’s results have gradually been declining over the last four from that big win to a score draw, a goalless draw and finally defeat. Stuart McCall (yes, he’s back in charge of Bradford again) and his men have gradually been improving and I think a Bradford Win is on the cards here should those trends continue.
As mentioned previously, whether the Bantams like to admit it or not, this is a big game for both sides. Town will be desperate to give the bigger boys a black eye and likewise Braford will certainly want to remind Harrogate of their place in the Yorkshire pecking order.
Goals have not been hard to come by for both of these sides so far and with the hustle and bustle of an early-season derby we’re expecting Both Teams To Score.
With goals potentially coming from a number of avenues in this one, the safest bet by a long way is Lee Novak to Score Anytime. The former Huddersfield and Birmingham hitman has been in fine fettle this season, scoring three goals in three games.
If there’s one thing Novak has it’s a nous that Town will have rarely come up against and, while enthusiasm and team spirit can take you so far, there’s no substitute for class.
Tips for Bradford v Harrogate on Monday night
- Paddy Power unveil window shopper tribute to Ed Woodward in Manchester
- Liverpool fan opens up after suffering from premature exultation
- Paddy taken for £650k after shock Liverpool and Man Utd meltdowns