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League Two

Sammy McIlroy's Blog 26

13 February 2013

Tuesday night saw 12 npower League 2 teams in action and the two stand-out results for me were Bradford City's 3-0 victory against Wycombe Wanderers and Cheltenham Town's 2-1 win at Southend United.

With 10 days to go before their Capital One Cup Final against Swansea City, Bradford desperately needed to halt their seven-match streak without a league win. To be honest, I didn't see it coming at Wycombe but Phil Parkinson must have been a relieved man to see his side finally get back to winning ways.

I'll talk in more detail next week about the Bantams' chances in the Final but there's no question the players needed that lift. I've heard people suggest that form wasn't that important to Bradford because of the size of the occasion coming up and the status as massive underdogs but that's nonsense. I don't care whether you're Manchester United or a pub team, every side wants to go into their biggest game of the season on the back of a few decent results.

The three points were also crucial in terms of their hopes of making the Play-Offs. It's obvious the Capital One Cup has been a distraction for the club and the players but the good news is that despite the slump, they're still only five points off the top seven places.

That's important because once the dust settles after the Final, win or lose, the Bantams have to refocus on their original target, getting into npower League 1. Memories of the Final will fade quickly but people will find it harder to forget if Bradford can get promotion.

Cheltenham's win was equally impressive and further proof of what a superb job Mark Yates is doing at Whaddon Road. Mark is an increasing rarity in The Football League because he's been in his job for more than five minutes and the way he has rallied his troops after the disappointment of losing last season's Play-Off Final to Crewe Alexandra is no small achievement.

The Robins are up to third and consistency has been the hallmark of their season. Some teams string together fantastic runs to get themselves into contention but Cheltenham have quietly gone about their business all season without really grabbing the headlines. They've got a great chance of automatic promotion as things stand and I wish them well.

I read this week that The Football League have given Barnet permission to move away from Underhill and play their home games at their training ground in Edgware next season. I'm sure Bees supporters had mixed emotions when the news came through but it's been in the pipeline for a while now and with the local council not allowing expansion on the current site, it is what the owners wanted.

Underhill is one of those grounds that teams hated going to. The famous slope gave the Barnet sides who were used to it a big advantage and they pulled off some big cup shocks there over the years.

But the stadium was looking a bit old and worn and although the place is steeped in history, every club has to move with the times and improve their facilities. The die-hard fans may be upset but from a Bees perspective, I hope the move signals the start of a new era and if they can avoid relegation this season, they'll hope to kick on next year in their new home.

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