By Tanaka Mvere
Bradford City take on Fleetwood Town at Valley Parade in tonight’s first leg of the Sky Bet League One 2016/17 play-offs.
The Bantams finished in fifth place in the League One, three points behind Fleetwood in fourth. Town only just missed out on a third place finish on goal difference to Scunthorpe United.
Both games between Bradford and Fleetwood finished in a 2-1 win for the home side. Bradford boss Stuart McCall is expecting the two legs to be a tight affair. Both teams have the joint-best defensive record, having conceded 43 goals. Only Bolton have conceded less (36).
Bantams goalkeeper Colin Doyle and captain Romain Vincelot are among those returning to the side to play Fleetwood. McCall rested key players on the weekend in their 1-1 draw to Rochdale ahead of the first leg tie at Valley Parade. Tony McMahon, James Meredith and Nathaniel Knight-Percival are also returning after being rested.
City are boosted by the return of defender Matt Killgalon and winger Alex Gilliead who both played on the final day. Both players are in contention for the first leg. McCall has also stated that he will give forward Alex Jones a chance to prove his fitness after a he sustained an injury at the weekend.
Fleetwood boss Uwe Rosler is hoping to name the same squad that drew 0-0 to Port Vale. Rosler’s side have made an impact this season with a fourth place finish, four points behind second-placed Bolton.
The Cod Army have Devante Cole and Jimmy Ryan back in contention, after Cole came off the bench and played on the final day, whilst Ryan played 45 minutes for the development side on Tuesday night.
Ahead of tonight’s fixture, both teams go into the game with very good records. Both teams’ have won four of their last six games, losing just once. Bradford haven’t lost at home in 31 outings since their defeat to Millwall in the first leg of last season’s play-offs (18, D12).
The Bantams have also only conceded 17 goals at home all season and this may be a tough encounter for Fleetwood.
Fleetwood are yet to concede in the Football League play-offs. The Cod-Army haven’t lost a play-off game since their promotion to League One in 2014 (W2, D1).