How the Bookies See it:
- Match Winner: Bradford 7/4, Fleetwood 11/8, Draw 9/4 - Paddy Power
- To Qualify: Bradford 1/4, Fleetwood 11/4 - Sky Bet
- Correct Score: Draw 1-1 11/2, Bradford 1-0 7/1, Fleetwood 1-0 7/1 - Bet365
- Rory McArdle’s 77th-minute header proved to be the difference between the sides in the first leg, as Bradford City finally found some reward for a dominant home performance. Billy Clarke had earlier hit the post for the hosts, who could have carved out an even more commanding position had they not spurned a series of chances. While they have gone through the whole of the League One season unbeaten at home, Bradford have been less consistent on the road and have won just one of their last five away matches. They also lost 2-1 at Fleetwood in February.
- Fleetwood Town struggled to create chances in the first leg but competed well and and boss Uwe Rosler declared himself happy with the performance despite the narrow loss. It was nevertheless a second successive match in which the Trawlermen had failed to score, following a 0-0 draw with Port Vale on the final day of the regular season. Fleetwood’s home form will give fans cause for optimism ahead of the return leg, though, as they only lost three times at Highbury all term.
Bradford made ten changes for the first leg and their extra freshness was evident as they set a fast tempo which Fleetwood found hard to match. Manager Stuart McCall says Bradford will not just sit on their lead as ‘the best form of attack is defence’, but the onus will be on Fleetwood to make the running in a match they must win.
While the first leg was understandably cagey for long periods, the return game is likely to become increasingly stretched the longer it goes on. If Fleetwood cannot find a breakthrough early on, they may have no option but to throw caution to the wind and leave gaps at the back which could be exploited, and odds of 5/1 on Bradford to win the match after it being level at half-time seem particularly attractive.
A price of 11/4 on Fleetwood to overturn the deficit and qualify for the play-off final, against Millwall or Scunthorpe United, will appeal to many punters, but Bradford have been defensively solid and difficult to beat all season. It will be another quick turnaround after the first leg and Fleetwood’s players will be the more weary unless wholesale changes are made, so the smart money looks to be on Bradford to protect their lead and advance to Wembley.
- Sports.net top tip: Half Time/Full Time - Draw/Bradford - 5/1 at Sky Bet
*Please note, odds may fluctuate.