Bradford City
3-0
Northampton Town

Hanson (15)
McArdle (19)
Wells (28)

 

 

 

Ref: Mr K Stroud

  Attendance: 47,127

By Tony Leighton

Bradford City striker Nahki Wells kept up his remarkable record of Cobbler-bashing to help the Bantams to a comfortable Play-Off Final victory.

After early goals from striker James Hanson and central defender Rory McArdle, Wells grabbed his seventh goal in six appearances against Northampton Town.

The 22-year-old Bermudan had never been on the losing side against the Cobblers and, after the first half-hour at Wembley, that was unlikely to change.

Victory brought Bradford's fairytale season to a triumphant close in what was the 64th game of the campaign for Phil Parkinson's team.

Against all the odds the Bantams reached Wembley for the Capital One Cup Final, the first League 2 side in history to figure in a major final at the national stadium.

They lost that one 5-0 to Swansea City, having knocked out three of the Swans' Premier League rivals en route to the final.

But in a more important Wembley fixture for the club's status, with a League 1 place at stake, they came up trumps with a devastating early goal-rush.

Aidy Boothroyd's side had kept nine clean sheets in the previous 15 matches, but their defence was shot to ribbons as Wells and Co ran riot.

The three goals were almost identical in their build-up, each starting with a cross from the left that flew over the goalmouth towards the right wing.

The 15th-minute opener arrived when right winger Garry Thompson collected the loose ball to cross back in for Hanson to loop a header into the roof of the net.

Four minutes later midfielder Nathan Doyle was on hand to turn the ball back across and McArdle, racing across the six-yard box, headed in at the near post.

And in the 28th minute Thompson was again the provider, meeting a Kyel Reid cross with a deft touch to set up Wells for a close range volleyed finish.

It was the Bermudan striker's 26th goal of the season and it effectively finished off Bradford's shell-shocked opponents.

Reid almost bagged a fourth Bantams goal just after the half-hour, goalkeeper Lee Nicholls acrobatically turning the left winger's header over the bar.

As half-time approached Northampton, forced their way into the game but without coming close to pulling a goal back.

They might have been a further goal behind six minutes after the break following a long throw-in from left-back James Meredith.

Hanson tussled with central defender Clarke Carlisle for the ball, which broke off Hanson, and Nicholls had to dive full length to save just inside the far post.

As the Bantams continued to press Reid missed a good chance from 10 yards and then Wells had a 15-yard effort saved by on-loan Wigan Athletic keeper Nicholls.

Northampton manager Aidy Boothroyd made three substitutions in 17 second-half minutes, but the changes proved ineffective as Bradford continued to dominate.

No further goals arrived, but that was of no consequence to Bradford as the players celebrated joyously with their ecstatic fans at the final whistle.

The Bantams will now step up to League 1 after a six-season absence, while Northampton must prepare for a fifth successive League 2 campaign.

Bradford City (4-4-2): McLaughlin; Darby, McArdle, Davies, Meredith; Thompson, Doyle (Ravenhill 87), Jones, Reid (Atkinson 78); Hanson, Wells (Connell 85).

Substitutes not used: Duke, McHugh, Hines, Nelson.

Northampton Town (4-4-2): Nicholls; Tozer, Carlisle, Cameron, Collins (Widdowson 53); Hackett, Guttridge, Harding, Demontagnac (Hornby 70); O'Donovan, Platt (Akinfenwa 55).

Substitutes not used: Snedker, Johnson, Langmead, Robinson.