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05 December 2023

Beware of Bradford: Premier League clubs on high alert

Bradford City's Scottish midfielder Andrew Halliday (L) vies with Sunderland's English-born Scottish midfielder Liam Bridcutt during the FA Cup fifth round football match between Bradford City and Sunderland at The Coral Windows Stadium in Bradford, northern England on February 15, 2015. (AFP)

By Agencies

Bradford City manager Phil Parkinson declared victory over British broadcaster the BBC after his side completed another FA Cup giant-killing by eliminating Sunderland in the fifth round.

Victors over Chelsea in the previous round, Bradford beat Premier League Sunderland 2-0 on Sunday in a game that was not shown on domestic television due to the BBC's decision to screen Aston Villa's 2-1 win over Leicester City instead.

Responding to complaints from fans, BBC presenter Gary Lineker explained that the decision not to broadcast Bradford's game had been taken before Sunderland had come through a fourth-round replay against Fulham.

But Parkinson said: "We were disappointed this wasn't on TV. If you just talk about the finances, £250,000 (£385,000, 338,000 euros) for a club like ours would have meant a lot.

"We had to take it on the chin and make sure we put in a performance today (Sunday), and that's what we've done. Hopefully, they will make it a televised game in the next round. I think they will after this!"

Bradford took an early lead when Billy Clarke's shot deflected in off John O'Shea for an own goal and secured a first quarter-final appearance since 1976 when former Sunderland striker Jon Stead scored just after the hour.

Stead scored just twice during his 18-month spell with Sunderland, prompting the club's fans to print T-shirts bearing the ironic slogan, 'I saw Jon Stead score,' but he has now netted in every round of the cup this season.

"He was immense today," said Parkinson, who led his side to the League Cup final in 2013. "But his all-round performance this week, and every week, has been immense.

"Today the whole team was superb and this was another terrific day for the club. For those who have been here to sample the atmosphere at Valley Parade, it's like a throwback to the old days of the FA Cup and the lads revelled in it."

'Elbows, cuts, bad decisions'

Sunderland manager Gus Poyet responded with defiance following his team's elimination, which comes at a time when the north-east club are only two points above the Premier League relegation zone.

Poyet turned his ire on referee Kevin Friend, who waved away a first-half penalty appeal by the visitors after a last-ditch tackle by Rory McArdle on Steven Fletcher.

"It was an easy decision. He was in the right position, he saw it, I can't do anything about that," said Poyet.

"We tried our best, there are no regrets. Everybody put in their best effort and their best ability and it was a great cup tie.

"It was one like we enjoyed on the TV a long time ago. There was a full stadium, two great sets of fans, elbows, cuts, bad decisions from the referee. It had it all."

Poyet turned on the media when asked about the post-match reaction of the Sunderland fans, who jeered their team's display.

"The problem is you, not me," said the Uruguayan.

"No, this is not the low point of my career. I haven't been in the bottom three once this year. I was last year.

"I played football, so I know what a cup tie like this means for Bradford City, for their players to be on the pitch in a game like this. That's why the FA Cup is the best competition in the world.

"But I am not going to comment about the fans."