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League Two

League 2 Play-Off Final - match report

18 May 2013

Three budding sports journalists won a day out at Wembley thanks to a partnership between The Football League and the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ).

This season the NCTJ has held a competition to recognise the best performing sports journalism students. The three winning students were rewarded for their outstanding exam performance with the unique opportunity of writing a Play-Off Final match report from the Wembley press box.

Read Ben Burrows' report from the League 2 Final below:

Bradford City 3-0 Northampton Town
npower League 2 Play-Off Final
Wembley Stadium
18th May 2013
Attendance 47,127
By Ben Burrows

Bradford City banished the ghosts of Capital One Cup Final defeat to see off Northampton Town and seal a return to League 1 after a six-year absence.

The Bantams, who famously made it all the way to Wembley only to lose out to Premier League Swansea City three months ago, ended Aidy Boothroyd's hopes of guiding his side to promotion in his first full season in charge at Sixfields.

Three first-half goals from James Hanson, Rory McArdle and Nahki Wells were enough for Phil Parkinson's men to emerge victorious in what was their 64th game of a marathon season.

The Yorkshiremen, who squeezed past Burton Albion in the semi-final, started positively with Hanson earning an early free-kick in a dangerous area, but Wells curled the resulting effort well over.

Wells' movement and Hanson's physicality were a constant threat to the Town defence and it was the latter who gave City the lead leaping highest to head home Garry Thompson's inviting centre in the 15th minute.

And they doubled their advantage minutes later, as McArdle, a goalscorer against Aston Villa earlier this year, beat everyone at the near post to nod home a Nathan Doyle cross.

Bradford were rampant, roared on by their vociferous claret and amber support, and Wells tested Lee Nicholls again as Northampton struggled to get a foothold in the game.

And the noisy Bradford contingent didn't have to wait long for another as Wells made it seven goals in six appearances against the Cobblers just before the half-hour.

The Cobblers failed to clear a Kyel Reid cross and Thompson, with an assist already to his name, nodded back across goal for the Bantams' top scorer to steer a volley into the net past the helpless Nicholls.

It could have been four if not for the acrobatics of the on-loan Wigan Athletic stopper soon after as he leapt at full stretch to palm a bullet header from Reid just over the crossbar.

On the contrary, opposite number Jon McLaughlin was barely tested in the Bradford goal in a thoroughly dominant first period for Parkinson's team.

The second half started in much the same manner and City would have moved further clear were it not for Nicholls. The keeper diving to divert Hanson's deflected effort wide of his left-hand post.

Boothroyd's side improved as the half wore on with the introduction of Adebayo Akinfenwa providing a much-needed focal point to an attack that lacked potency for much of the afternoon.

But it was all a case of too little too late for them as Bradford, content to hold what they had, secured the win in their first Play Off Final appearance for 17 years.

The Bantams faithful, who were left so disappointed after defeat in February, travelled back north elated able to look forward to a campaign in the third tier of English football for the first time since 2007.

Bradford City (4-4-2): McLaughlin; Darby, McArdle, Davies, Meredith; Thompson, Doyle (Ravenhill 87), Jones, Reid (Atkinson 78); Hanson, Wells (Connell 85).

Substitutes not used: Duke, McHugh, Hines, Nelson.

Northampton Town (4-4-2): Nicholls; Tozer, Carlisle, Cameron, Collins (Widdowson 53); Hackett, Guttridge, Harding, Demontagnac (Hornby 70); O'Donovan, Platt (Akinfenwa 55).

Substitutes not used: Snedker, Johnson, Langmead, Robinson.

Referee: Mr K Stroud (Hampshire)

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