It’s set to be an exciting afternoon at Valley Parade as play-off competitors Bradford City host Gillingham.
The game has been chosen by the club’s hierarchy as their #BantamsFamily fixture with adults able to gain entry for £10 and kids for just a quid. This coupled with the exciting new additions the club made to their squad on deadline day – Charlie Wyke, Jacob Hanson, Matthew Penney and Kevin Toner – could see the game played in front of a bumper crowd at a club which already plays in front of 18,000 fans regularly in the third tier of English football.
The Bantams have been in good form of late with three wins in January and a decent point at home to play-off rivals Millwall. A 2-1 win at Oldham last week in front of 3,000 travelling fans will have the team high on confidence. The club sits fifth in the league and will be keen for three points with fans looking to their new additions in the squad to get the win.
As for the Gills, they’re without a win since 17th December when they snatched a 1-0 win at home to MK Dons. After two draws on the bounce, the side will be looking to snatch something on a cold February afternoon in West Yorkshire. Anything other than a loss will be welcomed by the fans as the club try to stretch the distance between themselves and the relegation zone.
Striker Alex Jones will be assessed ahead of the match due to a hip problem with Nathaniel Knight-Percival a doubt. Experienced defender Matthew Kilgallon is the only player who will definitely not take part in the match following his injury against Millwall which sees him ruled out for the rest of the season.
Chris Herd could be back in contention for the Gills with Bradley Garmston back in contention following concussion. Lee Martin and Aaron Morris are the only long-term absences for the Kent side with ankle and knee injuries, respectively.
Former Bantam Billy Knott won’t be making a return to play in front of the Valley Parade faithful after he made a move on loan to Lincoln City earlier in the week. Fans have fond memories of Knott, as he was part of the Phil Parkinson squads who beat the likes of Chelsea, Sunderland and Leeds United back in the season of 2014/2015, and the player who always wore his heart on his sleeve would’ve no doubt got a good reception.
Speaking to the T&A’s Simon Parker, City’s big money signing Charlie Wyke is keen to get going and play a part in the clash on Saturday.
He said: “I’ve seen some of the highlights and the lads play really good football.
“It’s perfect that my first game is at home. The chairman’s put special tickets on so it will be a bit cheaper so there are going to be a lot of fans.”
Gillingham manager Ady Pennock has also spoken ahead of the game which sees his team try to be the first club to beat Bradford on their home turf this season.
He told Kent Online: “It doesn’t matter if it’s Bradford, Oldham or Coventry, whoever we play we have to have that winning mentality and hunger. I took a lot of encouragement from last weekend. We could have been three goals up at half-time but credit to them, they came out second half and had a right go.”
“Our shape has been good, the work ethic has been fantastic and there is a togetherness. When people are working for each other, that’s the biggest thing. There has been improvements and I am pleased.”
With the Bantams unbeaten at home this season it’s no surprise that a home win stands at 5/8 with 888 Sport. A draw is available at 14/5 and a win for the Gills stands at 22/5. Both teams to score is at 19/20 with over 2.5 goals at 49/50. The Gills certainly have some attacking threats in their side in Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, Cody McDonald and Rory Donnelly available to score first at 7/1, 8/1 and 9/1, respectively. A big 3-0 win for the Bantams against the struggling Gills, with top scorer Jordy Hiwula to score first, stands at a tempting 32/1.