Bradford’s Wembley experience could hinder them, says Cobblers striker Akinfenwa

Adebayo Akinfenwa accepts that the Bradford City players’ Wembley experience could be a big advantage for them in today’s npower League Two final (ko 1.30pm).
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But he also feels it could weigh a little heavy on the shoulders of some of the Bantams squad.

Bradford have already played at Wembley Stadium this season, their amazing Capital One Cup run in which they beat Premier League sides Wigan Athletic, Arsenal and Aston Villa, culminating in a final against another top flight side, Swansea City.

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A huge crowd of 82,597 turned out, with an estimated 35,000 travelling down from west Yorkshire in party mood - but the Bantams were routed 5-0.

So it will have been a bitter-sweet experience for the players - who barely touched the ball all game - and supporters, and Akinfenwa feels it could work as a positive for them, but it could also be a negative.

“If we score first, then maybe the memory of getting beat 5-0 by Swansea will hit them,” said the Cobblers’ 17-goal top-scorer.

“The other side of it is that it could work for them because they don’t want to lose again, so their experience will play a part.

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“But we have people at our club that have played in big games on big stages before, and I think it will just come down to a will to win.

“The stadium is going to be packed.

“I think we will take a lot of fans, Bradford will definitely take a lot, so it is going to be a great atmosphere and a great day. Hopefully we will be the ones smiling at the end of the game.”

The Cobblers have met Bradford four times already this season, and Town have yet to manage a win. Both league games were lost 1-0, while two FA Cup ties were drawn - 1-1 and 3-3 - before Bradford progressed via a penalty shoot-out, something they are specialists in.

Despite finishing the season below the Cobblers in the league two table, the Valley Parade outfit will go into the game as favourites 
thanks to that record, but Akinfenwa believes it counts for nothing.

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“I think the teams play a similar style,” said the Cobblers front man.

“We are both, big strong teams and it is going to be a battle of will. It will be about who wants it more.

“We hadn’t beaten Cheltenham in the league, we had lost twice to them, and then we beat them twice in the semi-finals.

“We knew we owed Cheltenham one from those league games, and we know we owe Bradford one as well.

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“If we are going to beat them, why not beat them on the biggest stage?”

And he added: “We are going into the game with confidence. We have Langers (Kelvin Langmead) coming back, our captain, to lead us out at Wembley.

“Platty (Clive Platt) will hopefully be back, Joe Widdowson will hopefully be back, and we are looking in good shape. We are unbeaten in five games, and we have confidence and togetherness.

“I am not saying Bradford haven’t got that, because to come back from 3-2 down in the first-leg, and to go to Burton and win was impressive.

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“So it is going to be a hard game, there is no doubt about that, but we are looking forward to it.”

Akinfenwa is also desperate to reward the Cobblers fans with a day to remember.

“The fans sold out the allocation for the game at Cheltenham in an hour or something, and they were screaming from beginning to end there,” he said.

“They spurred us on, and in the home leg as well when the atmosphere was rumbling.

“So if we can take a lot of fans there, and get promoted for them as well, it will be a beautiful thing.”