Play-Off Joy For Former U's
It was a day to remember in the League Two play-offs yesterday for a few former U's connections, as both Bradford City and Northampton Town set up a Wembley final between themselves.
City, managed by Phil Parkinson, overcame a one goal deficit from their opening leg to pick up an impressive 3-1 win away Burton, who had the best home record in League Two across the regular season.
Parkinson is, of course, the manager who masterminded the U's promotion to the Championship for the only time in the club's history and, following less successful spells with Charlton and Hull, appears to have refound his touch at Valley Parade.
The Bantams have already enjoyed a hugely enjoyable season, beating Arsenal and Aston Villa en route to the League Cup final, and perhaps their previous experience at Wembley will hold them in good stead for the play-off final.
In the play-off final they will face Northampton, now managed by another former U's manager in Aidy Boothroyd.
Although Boothroyd spent far less time with the club than Parkinson, he polarised support with his combination of good results but with long-ball football, with the U's spending most of his season at the club in and around the top three or four of League One.
However, when results tailed off towards the end of campaign as well, it united the support against his style of play and the majority seemed content for him to depart for Coventry City when they approached the U's.
He took over at Sixfields at the back-end of last season with the Cobblers struggling for their Football League status, and has done a terrific job to oversee their rise up the table and into the promotion hunt, looking a big contender for automatic promotion until recently.
They won 1-0 in both of their legs over Cheltenham for a 2-0 aggregate win, and secured the win yesterday thanks to a stunning strike by yet another former U's connection, Luke Guttridge.
Guttridge signed for the U's after the first season in the Championship but, having been brought in by Geraint Williams, he struggled to break into the central midfield which was dominated by the outstanding Johnnie Jackson that season.
Guttridge featured only fourteen times for the U's in the league that season, and he was released as the U's dropped back into League One where he has since spent time with both Northampton and Aldershot, returning to the Cobblers last year after two years with the Shots.
Meanwhile, Clive Platt has enjoyed another good season with the Cobblers and took up a place on the bench yesterday, although he failed to make it onto the pitch.
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