BURTON ALBION v BRADFORD CITY

The npower League 2 Play-Off semi-final between Bradford City and Burton Albion is finely poised with the Brewers holding a 3-2 advantage from the first leg, ahead of the second meeting at the Pirelli Stadium on Sunday.

Burton raced into a two-goal lead within 30 minutes on Thursday night thanks to a Calvin Zola brace, but Nahki Wells pulled one back for the Bantams from the penalty spot.

Robbie Weir restored the two-goal cushion a minute before the break but Garry Thompson fired home with 15 minutes to go, to keep the Bantams within touching distance going into the second leg, which kicks off at midday.

Bradford manager Phil Parkinson admitted the occasion may have got to his players in the 3-2 defeat, but wants them to give it their all in an attempt to return to the national stadium for the second time this term.

He told the Telegraph and Argus: "Play-Offs do strange things some times, especially the first game. Players have to settle into it and we got punished.

"Let's be fair to this group, they've been outstanding this season. We need a big performance and we want to play well and come out of the game with credit.

"Whatever the outcome, we want to come off the pitch after a performance that can do the season justice. Do that and we'll see where it takes us."

Parkinson's men will be up against it when they visit the Pirelli Stadium; Burton have lost just three times in the 23 matches they played on home soil during the regular season.

His opposite number, Gary Rowett, who is in his first full season in management after taking over at the Staffordshire club last May, is predicting another open match.

He told Burton Mail: "What Thursday's result does is guarantee there's going to be a great game tomorrow. And, really, one goal swings it again.

"I've been here before in Play-Off games. If you can sense you feel you've got a chance, someone will come and slap you on the backside.

"If we're playing on Sunday and [Bradford striker] James Hanson knocks one in after three minutes, everything changes.

"What's important is we go out there and put in another thoroughly professional performance in and we give ourselves a little bit of a chance, that's all."

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CHELTENHAM TOWN v NORTHAMPTON TOWN

It's advantage Northampton Town in the other League 2 Play-Off semi-final with the Cobblers holding a 1-0 lead over Cheltenham Town ahead of their second leg at Whaddon Road on Sunday.

The hosts' win at Sixfields on Thursday evening came courtesy of a Roy O'Donovan strike in the first half, after good work from front man Adebayo Akinfenwa and winger Chris Hackett, and that was the Cobblers' 18th victory on home soil this term.

Cheltenham also have an impressive home record and are unbeaten in 21 matches at Whaddon Road, having not lost there since a 3-1 defeat to Southend United in September last year.

Drawing on that statistic, Cheltenham boss Mark Yates is upbeat about his team's chances in the second leg.

The 43-year-old told www.ctfc.com: "I'm probably a happier man than Aidy [Boothroyd] right now because we got a battering [in the first leg] and we didn't play anywhere near our best.

"We had to dig in and credit to Northampton because they were miles better than us but it is 1-0 and we have a chance. We knew we would have to win our home game and we have one of the best records in the league there."

Northampton manager Aidy Boothroyd was satisfied with a win from what was a tight, cagey affair under the lights at Sixfields.

The 42-year-old was the man that led Watford to the Premier League via the Championship's end-of-season competition in 2006 and he will be hoping to get another taste of Play-Off success in the Final on May 18th, but knows it will be tough for his team to negotiate a way past the Robins, even with a lead from the opening tie.

"I'd have taken 1-0 before the game," Boothroyd told the Northampton Chronicle and Echo after the conclusion of the first leg.

"It was important we kept a clean sheet and didn't lose the game and it would have been nice to score more goals but I'm really looking forward to Sunday's game.

"We've still got goals in us and with a fair wind there we can give ourselves a good chance of getting into the Final but it's not going to be easy.

"It's all to play for. We're still in the tie and we know we've got to be at our best, anything less won't be enough."

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