BY AIDAN O’DONNELL
CARL McHugh from Leitirmacaward scored his first goal for Bradford City during his side’s epic FA Cup first round replay with Northampton Town at the Coral Windows Stadium last night.
A couple of weeks after playing a part in their Capital One Cup win over Premier League side Wigan Athletic, McHugh was right at the heart of another cup success as they gunned down Northampton in the most dramatic of circumstances.
Bradford led 2-1 courtesy of goals from Will Atkinson and Nahki Wells but were taken to extra-time when Clive Platt scored with only 30 seconds of injury-time remaining.
Northampton then took a 3-2 lead four minutes into the second period of extra-time when skipper Kelvin Langmead found the back of the net.
The visitors appeared on course to progress to the next round as Bradford, who had already used up all three substitutes, saw James Meredith limp off injured, meaning they had to play out the remaining eleven minutes with just ten men.
But the Bantams showed fantastic resilience to somehow fashion an equaliser right at the death when McHugh stooped to head home with just seconds remaining to force a penalty-shootout.
Ricky Ravenhill then proved the hero in the spot-kicks as Bradford won 4-2 on penalties – their third penalty shootout win this term and eighth in a row altogether.
The West Yorkshire side, currently fourth in the npower League Two, will now League One side Brentford at home in early December for the right to make it into the coveted third round.
Manager Phil Parkinson hailed his sides never-say-die attitude and felt McHugh’s persistence to grab the third equaliser epitomised their fighting spirit.
“I can’t fault the resilience of the lads – we were absolutely outstanding in that respect,” he said.
“We should have won the game in ninety minutes – I thought some of our football in the first half especially was brilliant.
“We should have had a penalty in that half when Bakes (Adam Baker) was clearly pulled back when through on goal. It would have most probably been a red card for their lad as well.
“None of that happened though, and we found ourselves losing in extra time and down to ten men. I always felt though, even going down a man, that there would be a chance for us.
“Stephen Darby’s thrown one in and Carl has shown great desire to get his head on it twice to make sure he won the throw-in and then scored the goal.”