Heartache for McHugh and Bradford

Carl McHugh and Bradford City were out of luck in today’s final.


From Chris McNulty at Wembley Stadium


CARL McHugh’s dreams of Capital One Cup glory were cruelly smashed by ruthless Swansea City.

The Swans created history in becoming the first non-English team to win the trophy – and in doing so ending the brave run of McHugh and Bradford.

Backed by a vociferous 32,000 Bantams army – included the 120 who left Lettermacaward to cheer on one of their own. It’s a day none of them, most especially McHugh, will forget in a hurry, gracing a major Cup final before 82,597 people at Wembley.

“It is every little boys’ dream – and he did dream it. To think that he’d be doing it at twenty is the stuff of dreams,” Carl’s mother, Mary, had said.

There was just two minutes gone in the second-half of this game when the end result was effectively confirmed, leaving with it only a question of how many, as Nathan Dyer netted the second of his two goals.

When Matt Duke, the Bradford City goalkeeper, was sent off for taking down Jonathan de Guzman and the same player converted the spot-kick past the substitute goalkeeper, Jon McLaughlin, ten minutes later, there was the danger that Swansea would go to town on a League Two side that had the scalps of top flight clubs Wigan Athletic, Arsenal and Aston Villa inscribed on their sword.

But the gulf in class finally told against Bradford on the big stage when they succumbed to a team some 78 places above them in League football.


The only consolation, perhaps, that it was only a 92nd minute goal by de Guzman which Swansea managed to add to a tally that had reached the handful by the conclusion.

There was a real sense of the novel, the unique and the historic down Wembley Way yesterday. In the absence of any of the so-called ‘big guns’, there was a carnival atmosphere as a tale of two new cities, Swansea and Bradford, was scripted beneath the arch.

Bradford City were gracing their first Cup final since the 1911 FA Cup decider, while Swansea were in completely new territory, this their first ever appearance in such a game in their 101 year history.

For Bradford, theirs had been a story of survival in a period since 2001 that saw them plummet from Premier League to almost going out of business – twice.

This walk down Wembley Way has allowed them dream again and their fans, boosted by that ever-growing band from Donegal, made the most of the occasion. To put it in some context: Swansea’s next game is at home to Newcastle while Bradford will host Dagenham and Redbridge on Wednesday night.

It was in the 16th minute here that Swansea’s class first told. Michael Laudrup’s side swept out of their own defence and, while Bradford’s rearguard scuttling back, the Premier League side stole the march.

Duke, at full stretch, could only palm Michu’s low shot, but Dyer was on hand to turn home at the back post.

That came after a really positive opening from the Welsh club. Three minutes prior to their going ahead, Swansea came within inches of the opener when Ben Davies’ header crept just the wrong side of Duke’s post.

In the early moments, McHugh had to be on hand twice: first to turn Dyer’s low cross out for a corner and then to get his foot on an awkward dropping ball into his box.

The Donegal man then headed out a corner from Jonathan de Guzman with a blistering follow-up volley from Leon Britton off target.

Five minutes before half-time it was heartache for Bradford. Ben Davies and Pablo Hernandez made the play, the latter’s delicate through ball finding Michu. The Spaniard showed just why he’s so highly rated right now as he picked a shot between the legs of McHugh and under Duke for two-nil.

It might well have been worse only for Duke smartly palming over just before half time to keep out a power-packed effort from Routledge.

In the small matter of the first twelve minutes of the second half, Bradford’s hopes were well and truly quashed. Dyer curled a delightful left-footed effort beyond Duke having sped away to work a one-two with Routledge.

When Duke was dismissed and de Guzman made it four, there was nothing for the claret and amber fans to do but enjoy what remained of their day at Wembley.

Theirs was passion, colour, noise and song all too often absent in defeat, but their day painfully ended when de Guzman turned home from close range in stoppage time.

Now, they turn attentions to attempting to battle their way to promotion from League Two.

Bradford City (4-4-2): Matt Duke; Stephen Darby, Rory McArdle, Carl McHugh, Curtis Good; Garry Thompson, Nathan Doyle, Gary Jones, Will Atkinson; James Hanson, Nahki Wells. Subs: Andrew Davies for Good (half time); Jon McLaughlin for Wells (57 mins); Zavon Hines for Thompson (73 mins).

Swansea City (4-2-3-1): Gerhard Tremmel; Angel Rangel, Ki Sung-Yeung, Ashley Williams, Ben Davies; Leon Britton, Jonathan de Guzman; Wayne Routledge, Pablo Hernandez, Nathan Dyer; Michu. Subs: Garry Monk for Ki (63 mins); Roland Lamah for Dyer (77 mins); Dwight Tiendalli for Davies (84 mins)

Referee: Kevin Friend.

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