Aidy Boothroyd admits it will be a strange experience taking on his home town club Bradford City in the npower League Two play-off final. And the Cobblers boss has warned the Bantams his players will not be treating it as a day out at the national stadium. Northampton have played Bradford four times this season and failed to get the better of them on every occasion.
Both league games were won 1-0 by Bradford, who drew 1-1 in an FA Cup first-round tie at Sixfields before winning the replay at Valley Parade on penalties after a 3-3 stalemate. Now they meet in the biggest game of them all, a 90-minute Wembley showdown with a place in npower League One up for grabs. “I don’t want to go there for a day out, I want to go there and win,” said Boothroyd, whose team put out Cheltenham a few hours after Bradford had won at Burton Albion on Sunday.
“It will be a strange and emotional game for me, being against my home town club and it will be weird. “They are my club so it will feel strange but we’ll see what happens.
“They have been to Wembley before and Phil Parkinson and Steve Parkin, who is a very good friend of mine, are terrific guys who have done a wonderful job there.
“They have turned Bradford City around and they have beaten some Premier League teams this season so it will be difficult.
“We’ve come close in the games against them this season but perhaps not had that little bit of luck that you need - hopefully that will change.”#
The squad have two weeks to prepare for the final at Wembley and will return to full training on Wednesday after being given permission for a few drinks on Sunday night after returning to Northampton.
Such a long run-in will give the game even more intensity but Boothroyd says the plan is to treat it as much like a normal league fixture as possible.
“We’ve had a couple of days off and then we’re back in on Wednesday,” he said. “Play-off finals, like cup finals, are one-off games but you have to prepare properly for them and we’ll do that, just like we have for all of our other games this season.
“Three of the best teams have gone up already and now it’s up to us or Bradford to prove that we’re good enough to go up with them.
“We’ve planned for it all through the season, we’ve been fantastic some of the time and not fantastic some of the time but the team is full of characters and full of belief.
“So we’ve got to pat ourselves on the back and quickly get back to it.”