Parky perky going into PNE battle

Bradford City's Jonathan Stead (centre) celebrates a goal with  James Meredith (left) and Billy Clarke
Bradford City's Jonathan Stead (centre) celebrates a goal with James Meredith (left) and Billy Clarke
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Bradford go into the clash with Preston North End on the back of what their manager Phil Parkinson described as one of their best wins of the season.

The Bantams won 3-0 at Yorkshire rivals Doncaster Rovers on Friday evening, a victory which kept them firmly in play-off contention.

Heading into the Easter Monday clash at Valley Parade, they are in seventh place, three points shy of Chesterfield who occupy the last play-off slot.

Reflecting on the Good Friday victory, Parkinson said: “In terms of wins for this season, this one has to be up there as one of the best.

“Going there on the back of Tuesday’s disappointment to face a side who hadn’t played for two weeks and who have a lot of Championship-quality players in their squad, I don’t think the 3-0 win flattered us.

“It was a deserved scoreline. Doncaster had a 10 to 15-minute period towards the end of the first half, but you would expect a team of Doncaster’s quality to have periods in the game.

“The second half, however, we dominated.

“We got the goals at good times and we could have scored a couple more.

“We did the right things in the right areas and we played some terrific football.

“The pitch was slick and I think some of our players relished showing what they could do on it.

“The talk in Doncaster’s camp was how they’d had two weeks to prepare and we’d had two tough games in that time.

“But there was only one team looking fatigued when the final whistle went and it wasn’t us.”

In a season when Bradford have beaten Chelsea and Sunderland in the FA Cup, for Parkinson to describe Friday’s win as up there with the best, was praise indeed.

It was their third win in 10 league games, the form of the Bantams having taken a dip during a busy spell of matches between mid-February and late March. Friday’s goals were scored by Gary MacKenzie, Billy Clarke and Tony McMahon.

MacKenzie and McMahon are on loan from Blackpool.

Clarke is the Bantams’ joint highest scorer with James Hanson, the pair netting 11 apiece in all competitions.

Jon Stead in one behind them, five of his 10 goals coming in Bradford’s run to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.

The threat posed by Stead and Hanson up front is clear to see but Preston manager Simon Grayson says there is a lot more to Bradford.

They are the only team to have won at Deepdale in the league this season, securing a dramatic 2-1 victory in November.

Bradford led from the first half through Rory McArdle, that goal looking sufficient to secure the three points.

Joe Garner netted an 85th-minute equaliser, only for the Bantams to attack straight from the re-start and score the winner through Mark Yeates.

Winger Yeates came off in the Doncaster win after falling awkwardly on his shoulder but he is expected to be fit to face North End.

Said Grayson: “Everyone is aware that Bradford have got the two strikers who they will hit it up to at times.

“They will play a diamond shape probably and will still try and play football even though they have the threat of the aerial bombardment.

“In their team they have some clever players – Billy Clarke and Billy Knott are good players on the ball.

“They offer a threat from set-pieces too, so it will be a tough game over there for us.”

North End’s last visit to Valley Parade was rather eventful, despite the goalless scoreline.

Neil Kilkenny and Kyle Bennett were sent off for a spot of handbags in the first half, Kilkenny later having his red card rescinded on appeal.

Bennett’s ban was reduced to one game from three.