The EFL League One Play-Off Final – Will Millwall or Bradford City Win A Coveted Championship Place?
The 2016/17 domestic football season is drawing to a close and the EFL play-offs are in full flow. On Saturday afternoon, the fate of the last two teams left in the battle for promotion to the Championship will be decided, when Millwall take on Bradford City at Wembley. So how did these two teams reach the League One play-off final and which club is most likely to win?
Bradford City vs. Millwall – Their Journeys to Wembley
Sheffield United and Bolton have already secured their 2017/18 EFL Championship places: Sheffield added another piece of silverware to their collection of football trophies when they won the league, while Bolton finished in second place. Bradford, who finished fifth on the table, and Millwall, who finished in sixth, clinched places in the League One play-offs, however, keeping their promotion dreams alive.
The first leg of Bradford City’s semi-final tie against Fleetwood took place at Valley Parade on Thursday 4 May. The Bantams delighted their home crowd by winning 1-0, thanks to a header from Rory McArdle in the 77th minute.
They managed to create chances when they visited Highbury Stadium three days later too, but failed to put the ball in the net. Fleetwood, however, couldn’t capitalise on the situation and the match ended goalless. The Bantams won by 1-0 on aggregate, securing themselves a place in the final.
Millwall’s first semi-final match against Scunthorpe at the Den, meanwhile, ended in deadlock (0-0). On Saturday 7 May, however, the Lions’ trip to Glanford Park proved to be a far more successful outing.
Ivan Toney put Scunthorpe ahead in the 19th minute, but Steve Morison equalised for Millwall at the end of the first half. Lee Gregory gave the Lions the advantage in the 52nd minute and Morison added a third to their tally six minutes later. Stephen Dawson put one past the posts for Scunthorpe in the 81st minute, but it was only a consolation goal in the end. Millwall won 3-2 on aggregate to go through to the final.
The Bantams or the Lions – Who Will Earn a 2017/18 EFL Championship Place?
This year’s final is, in fact, a repeat of one of 2016’s semi-final clashes. On that occasion, the Lions defeated Bradford by 4-2 on aggregate to earn themselves a trip to Wembley. The Bermondsey-based club’s hopes of achieving promotion were eventually shattered by Barnsley, however, who beat the Lions by 3-1.
Millwall’s skipper, Tony Craig, told the club’s website, “News at Den”, that this year’s finalists were well-matched.
“Bradford are very good from front to back,” he said. “We’ve already had two tough battles against them this season. There’s not much between the sides.”
He emphasised the strength of the current Millwall squad, however, and noted that being in last year’s play-offs had been beneficial to the younger members of the team.
“For them, playing the final at Wembley is going to be just another game,” he said.
Last weekend, however, former Bantams joint-chairman, Mark Lawn, told the Telegraph and Argus that Bradford had every chance of beating the Lions.
“They’ll be physical and not play as much football as we can,” he said. “If we can get it down and play, that will be the edge we can have.”
Are you a Bradford or a Millwall fan? Which team do you think will win at Wembley? Share your match predictions with us in the comments section, on Facebook or on Twitter.