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The Bantams

12 games that have defined Bradford City’s League One season

We take a look back at the Bantam's solid season which ultimately ended in play-off final heartbreak

Bradford City were keen to build on last season’s play-off semi-final defeat by going one better this season, and certainly enjoyed a strong campaign.

With only seven defeats in the league all season, Bradford boasted consistency as they hovered around the play-off places.

Fan favourite Stuart McCall

Fan favourite Stuart McCall

After a short spell with Rangers in 2015, Stuart McCall was given the Bantams top job in the summer after Phil Parkinson left for Bolton.

McCall, a fan favourite at Valley Parade, came through the youth system at Bradford before moving to Everton in 1988.

He then spent another four seasons at the club towards the end of his playing career.

Woth McCall in the dugout, let’s look back at the games that have defined Bradford’s League One campaign:

1 Bradford City 3-1 Coventry (August 20 2016)

Bradford started the season in top form

Bradford started the season in top form

The Bantams started the season in fine form, winning three of their opening four games.

The pick of these was matchday four, which saw City notch three goals in nine second-half minutes to maintain their unbeaten start to the season with a 3-1 win against Coventry at home.

Captain Tony McMahon was the hero of the day by hitting a brace that put Bradford up to third in the League One table.

2 Bradford City 2-0 Shrewsbury (October 8 2016)

Bradford’s unbeaten start to the season stretched to 12 games, when they beat managerless Shrewsbury 2-0.

Despite their awesome run, they were still behind table-toppers Scunthorpe, albeit by a single point.

Still, they were the only club in the country that remained unbeaten in all competitions.

3 Oxford 1-0 Bradford City (October 15 2016)

But that unbeaten run came to an abrupt end in their next match when they travelled to mid-table Oxford.

Billy Clarke missed a first-half penalty for the Bantams, which would prove costly in the closing moments of the game when the U’s Chris Maguire struck a brilliant free-kick from 23 yards out in stoppage time.

All good things must come to an end.

4 Bradford City 4-0 Rochdale (November 12 2016)

Barry Bantam enjoying the big win over Rochdale

Barry Bantam enjoying the big win over Rochdale

McCall’s charges moved back up to second in League One when they recorded their biggest win of the season against Rochdale.

Top goalscorer Clarke was instrumental in the clash, which came only days after a disappointing FA Cup defeat against Accrington.

5 Bradford City 0-0 Scunthorpe (December 26 2016)

The Boxing Day clash against promotion rivals Scunthorpe meant Valley Park enjoyed the biggest attendance of the season, but the game was a bore draw.

Worryingly, the result saw the Bantams fall down the table into fifth place, having been as high as second barely a month previously.

6 Oldham 1-2 Bradford City (January 28 2017)

McCall overseeing another win

McCall overseeing another win

Having drawn every game they played in December, three wins in January meant Bradford were firmly in contention for a League One play-off spot.

Their narrow victory at struggling Oldham kept the pressure on Fleetwood and Bolton ahead of them, while they had a six point cushion to the club’s outside of the play-off places.

7 Fleetwood 2-1 Bradford City (February 14 2017)

Valentine’s Day saw the Bantams’ fifth defeat of the season against fellow promotion challengers Fleetwood, with ex-Bradford striker Devante Cole dealing the damage to his former club.

The result rang alarm bells around Valley Park, with McCall’s side now just two points away from play-off chasing Southend in seventh place.

8 Bradford City 2-1 Swindon (March 18 2017)

Celebrations as the league season reaches crunch time

Celebrations as the league season reaches crunch time

But that result was a distant memory only a month later, with McCall’s charges went on to enjoy seven games without a defeat.

Their win against Swindon in March saw the Bantams move up to fourth in the table and keep their hopes of a place in the automatic promotion places alive.

9 Sheffield United 3-0 Bradford City (April 17 2017)

In the final seven games of their League One season, Bradford continued their habit of losing away to promotion rivals.

Having lost to Fleetwood in February, they narrowly fell to Scunthorpe at the end of March.

They then suffered defeat to newly crowned league champions Sheffield United at Bramall Lane.

10 Bradford City 3-0 AFC Wimbledon (April 22 2017)

The majestic Valley Park

The majestic Valley Park

But they needn’t worried.

A solid performance in their next game against AFC Wimbledon ensured their place in the play-offs, with Mark Marshall’s fine solo goal coupled with a McMahon brace ensuring City preserved their unbeaten league record at Valley Parade.

11 Fleetwood 0-0 Bradford City (agg 0-1) (May 7 2016)

Bradford booked their place in the play-off final at Wembley with a fine display against season-long foes Fleetwood over two legs.

A powerful header from McMahon in the second-half was enough to give the Bantam’s a slender lead in the first leg, while an incredible defensive display by centre-backs Rory McArdle and Nathaniel Knight-Percival in the second-leg was enough to steer them home to the final.

12 Bradford 0-1 Millwall (May 20 2016)

McCall urging his side on

McCall urging his side on

Close, but no cigar.

Stuart McCall’s side had the better of the first-half in the Wembley showpiece, with Billy Clarke denied by a brilliant save from Millwall’s ‘keeper Jordan Archer.

But veteran Lions striker Steve Morison was the difference in the end, striking late in the second-half to spell heartbreak for the Bradford faithful.

Having made it to the play-off semi-finals last season, the Bantam’s are clearly progressing in the direction.

Coming back even stronger next season with be imperative.