Football League Expert & Columnist
James Hanson and Nahki Wells vital for Bradford, says Peter Beagrie
Beags says Bradford will vanquish Northampton if James Hanson and Nahki Wells hit top form.
Last Updated: 17/05/13 6:08pm
Phil Parkinson's men were sitting mid-table win nine games to go and it was clear that their run to the Capital One Cup final had taken its toll on the players, but they stormed into the play-offs with a wave of momentum and are rightfully favourites for Saturday's clash.
The Bantams should come out on top if their strikers, James Hanson and Nahki Wells, have an on-day because at their best those two are big threats and form a John Toshack-Kevin Keegan-style partnership.
Hanson is still very raw but his approach and hold-up play is improving all the time and he is incredible in the air, while Wells has tremendous balance and work ethic, loves playing the game and has a bit of an edge to him, too.
Northampton's centre-halves, Clarke Carlisle and Nathan Cameron, will have a hard job containing Hanson and Wells.
But the Cobblers have plenty of experience in their ranks which should help them settle quickly in this match.
Carlisle, Roy O'Donovan, Luke Guttridge and Chris Hackett have been around the block but in and around the penalty area, everything will revolve around one individual - the monster of an individual that is Adebayo Akinfenwa.
The 31-year-old is a wardrobe with a Northampton kit on and has been a wonderful servant for the Cobblers in his two spells with the club, but he remains an integral part of the side, with many other players benefitting from his build-up play and flick-ons.
Therefore, Bradford will be delighted to welcome defender Andrew Davies, who has missed a lot of action this term, back from suspension because the ex-Middlesbrough man will be willing to put his body where it hurts.
City will be used to the surroundings of Wembley so are unlikely to be daunted by them and you would think they will be able to play their natural game, but I'm sure Aidy Boothroyd, a fine man manager and talker, will have calmed his team down in the build-up.
There is a chance that whoever loses this match could swiftly lose their manager, because I know that both Parkinson and Boothroyd are held in high regard and perhaps even more so after their exploits this season.
Aidy has suffered in his last few jobs through a lack of funds and some self-doubt possibly creeping in, but he has come back strong, taking Northampton from just outside the relegation zone last year to the top seven.
Phil, meanwhile, has plotted the downfall of Premier League sides in the Capital One Cup, galvanised his club, increased fitness levels and signed brilliantly - but still not signed a new contract with Bradford, so it could be a case of watch this space.
For now, though, his focus will be on guiding his side to play-off glory and I think he will, because despite this being Bradford's 64th game of a mammoth season, it is their most important one and fatigue will play no part.