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Bradford's famous victory over Aston Villa owes plenty to Phil Parkinson's tactics, says Dean Saunders

Last Updated: 09/01/13 10:18am

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Bradford boss Phil Parkinson deserves every plaudit that comes his way after the Bantams bagged a famous 3-1 victory over Aston Villa in the first leg of their League Cup semi-final clash.

So say Sky Sports pundit Peter Beagrie and new Wolves manager Dean Saunders, who are in no doubt that League Two Bradford fully deserve to take a two-goal cushion to the Sky Live return leg at Villa Park on January 22.

Nahki Wells, Rory McArdle and Carl McHugh were all on target for the home side at Valley Parade and although no team from the fourth tier of English football has reached the League Cup final since 1962, Beagrie believes that Parkinson's side showed sufficient resilience to suggest a trip to Wembley is well within their grasp.

"It was an incredible performance; first and foremost they are playing Aston Villa, a Premier League team," said Beagrie, who played for Bradford from 1997-2001.

"It was absolutely outstanding - there was passion, desire and heart, which is all you expect from a footballer. Then you get that quality from a League Two team as well. You get the organisation.

"We should have had 11 bottles of champagne - or 13 - for the players who entered the field for Bradford because they were terrific; absolutely brilliant.

"We saw individuals in the Bradford side playing within the framework of a team. Villa were full of individuals; there was a lack of leadership.

"It's through no fault of their own because the likes of [Richard] Dunne and Stiliyan [Petrov] are out. They are your natural leaders.

"I also saw a young back four, whereas Phil Parkinson did exactly what the job description desired and needed - which was get Villa turned towards their own goal, put them under severe pressure, don't let them come out and play their natural game."


Saunders, who won the 1994 League Cup with Villa, was equally impressed with Bradford's organisation and although he believes Paul Lambert's side should not surrender all hope of reaching Wembley, he does remain concerned about their defensive frailties.

"I agree - it's a great night; Bradford have been in administration twice. The club was dead on its feet. That's topped the Arsenal [quarter-final]. The players were magnificent.

"But Paul Lambert will be going into [the changing rooms] saying 'can we beat these 2-0 at Villa Park and take it to extra-time?' and the answer is 'yes'.

"Their biggest worry is 'can we keep a clean sheet?' because at the minute they are letting goals in week in, week out. It's alright saying 'we can win 2-0' but can they stop Bradford scoring at Villa Park?

"It's a massive game for Aston Villa - it's a massive club, a great club and all of the spectators here will have been expecting to get through tonight."

Parkinson said after the victory that the performance of his players had exceeded even his own expectations but Saunders, who took over as Wolves boss on Monday, told Sky Sports that no-one should be surprised at what the 45-year-old has achieved.

"You've got to say 'what a manager'. I think he's in the wrong league," reflected Saunders. "The way he set the team up was unbelievable. They were solid; Villa had chances, but considering they are in League Two they were solid.

"They've got two strikers who can cause problems against anybody and they've scored three goals. Admittedly, two of them were from second-phase set-plays and one of them was from a set-play."

Don't miss the Capital One Cup semi-final, second leg between Aston Villa and Bradford on Tuesday January 22. Coverage from Villa Park starts from 7.30pm on Sky Sports 1 HD.

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