Bradford, England: Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert says his side must make the most of home advantage if they are to stand any chance of turning around their League Cup semi-final with Bradford City.
The Premier League relegation candidates sank to a 3-1 defeat at Valley Parade on Tuesday as the League Two club moved to within 90 minutes of becoming the first fourth-tier side to reach a League Cup final since Rochdale in 1962.
Villa started the game strongly but were robbed of their momentum when Nahki Wells put the hosts in front in the 19th minute. The visitors were unable to recover, with late headers from Rory McArdle and Carl McHugh taking Bradford to within sight of Wembley despite Andreas Weimann replying for Villa.
“It is half-time, we have another chance to retrieve this and we will see what happens in a fortnight’s time,” Lambert said. “We will be at home, with the crowd behind us, and we will have to do better than we did tonight [Tuesday], that is for sure.”
Asked if his side would start the January 22 second leg as favourites despite their two-goal deficit, Lambert replied: “I’m pretty sure we will be, being at home with the crowd behind us, but it is a big game for us now.”
Victory over Villa maintained Bradford’s incredible record in this season’s competition, after wins over Wigan Athletic and Arsenal in previous rounds.
Bradford, who last appeared in the Premier League in 2001, have played with the threat of administration looming over the club in recent seasons, but their League Cup exploits are thought to have swelled their finances to the tune of £1 million (Dh5.8 million).
Manager Phil Parkinson, who has been at the Yorkshire club since August 2011, says the pressure will all be on Villa when the sides reconvene in two weeks.
“We had a team that would rise to the occasion and I am so proud of the performance,” he said. “We have a great chance now and Villa will have to play exceptionally well to get to Wembley.
“There were chances at both ends and some of our attacking play was excellent. I still think Villa will be the favourites in two weeks, but we go there full of confidence and the pressure will be on them.”