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Since we last met: Bradford City

24 February 2023

Rovers face Bradford City in a Yorkshire derby at the Eco-Power Stadium this weekend.

Danny Schofield’s side’s three-game winning run came to an end last time out as they were beaten 2-0 at Sutton United in Sky Bet League Two.

Bradford sit two points and two places above Rovers in the table, with both sides pushing for the play-offs.

The last meeting

The two sides played out a goalless draw when they last met on the opening day of the 2022/23 season.

Rovers played more than a half of the game with 10 men, after Lee Tomlin was sent off for two bookable offences. Both teams had chances to win it as Joseph Olowu was denied by Harry Lewis from close-range, before Richie Smallwood’s free-kick rebounded off a post late on.

It was honours even at the University of Bradford Stadium, with City’s Kian Harratt shown a red card after the final whistle following a coming together between the two sets of players.

Bradford’s recent form

The Bantams have won two of their previous six league games, stretching back to a goalless draw at AFC Wimbledon on January 14. They would go on to draw their next two fixtures, against Stockport County and Mansfield Town respectively.

Mark Hughes’ side then picked up one of their best results this season, beating promotion chasing Stevenage 3-2 on the road on February 11. They then beat Tranmere Rovers at home three days later, but lost 1-0 to Barrow in their last league outing.

Key men

Experienced midfielder Richie Smallwood joined Bradford last summer after leaving Sky Bet Championship side Hull City.

Having come through the ranks at hometown club Middlesborough, and made more than 70 appearances for the Riverside outfit before making a loan move to Rotherham United permanent in 2014. Smallwood spent three seasons with the Millers prior to signing for Blackburn Rovers, who he helped to promotion from Sky Bet League One in his first season at the club.

He made almost 100 appearances during his time with Rovers, before signing for Hull in 2020 and adding another promotion to his CV under Grant McCann. The 32-year-old has made more than 400 career appearances so far, including 34 for Bradford this season.

Scottish winger Jamie Walker returned to Bradford on a permanent deal last summer after impressing during a loan spell with the club early in 2022.

Having come through the ranks at Heart of Midlothian, he made 176 appearances, scoring 39 goals, before a move south of the border to join Wigan Athletic in January 2018. He struggled for game time with the Latics though and spent time on loan at Peterborough United, before returning to Hearts 18-months after departing.

Murphy spent another three years at Tynecastle before joining Bradford initially on loan last January. He scored four goals in 15 starts which persuaded the Bantams to take him permanently in the summer. He has spent much of this season on the sidelines, but has made a welcome return to the side recently having scored twice in his past three games.

Striker Andy Cook is approaching 200 career goals including 16 for Bradford City in Sky Bet League Two this season.

The early stages of Cook’s career saw him score more than 50 times across two spells with Barrow, either side of two seasons at Grimsby Town. He moved on to Tranmere Rovers in 2016, and played a big part in them returning to the EFL two years later. He scored in the National League play-off final against Boreham Wood to secure promotion at Wembley, before moving on again to Walsall that summer.

He also had a spell at Mansfield Town before signing for Bradford on a permanent deal in the summer of 2021. Since arriving in West Yorkshire, he has scored 36 goals in 73 league starts and is a pivotal part of Mark Hughes’ side’s chances of promotion this season.

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