FROM CHRIS MCNULTY AT WEMBLEY STADIUM
CARL McHugh and Bradford City might have been beaten five-nil by Swansea City in yesterday’s Capital One Cup final at Wembley, but the 20-year old Lettermacaward man insists that the Bantams will still walk with their heads held high.
The League Two side, who had defeated Wigan Athletic, Arsenal and Aston Villa on their way to yesterday’s showpiece, were undone by Michael Laudrup’s slick Swansea, who struck at the perfect moments.
Brave Bradford – bidding to become the first team from the fourth tier to win a major cup competition – fell behind when Nathan Dyer struck in the 16th minute and there was an ominous tone prevailing when Michu doubled the lead in the 40th minute.
Two minutes into the second half, Dyer made it three before Jonathan de Guzman netted a penalty after Matt Duke, the Bradford goalkeeper, was sent off. In injury time, de Guzman turned home a fifth.
“We have nothing to be ashamed of,” McHugh told the Donegal News last night in Wembley.
“We might have been beaten 5-0, but we can still walk out of here with our heads held high. It mightn’t have gone well today, but we will take a lot from this run and will learn a lot from today as well.
“It was a tough game. Swansea were the better team and definitely deserved it.
“Swansea showed today why they’re a top Premiership team. It was just a step too far for us on the day.”
Their previous wins over top flight opposition had been recorded in two-legged games, but in the one-off final it was Swansea whose form and class told.
McHugh, who had a busy afternoon at the heart of the Bradford rearguard, said: “It was a different game the way it panned out. The way they keep the ball makes it so tough to get it off them. If we were to win today we’d have needed a fair bit of luck.
“They scored just before half-time and that was a killer. Then they got the third and we had the sending off which really killed us off.”
Over 100 of his family and friends were in Wembley and the green and gold of Donegal was dotted around the famous London venue during and after the game.
“It has been a great achievement to get this far and it was a great experience playing in the final,” he said.
McHugh and Bradford are back to porridge on Wednesday night when Phil Parkinson will attempt to pick his team up for a promotion assault now in the final three months of the season with his team currently in 11th place. As Swansea will look forward to European football, Valley Parade will host Dagenham and Redbridge on Wednesday before Bradford are away to York City on Saturday. Such were the margins.
“The gulf between these two clubs is just massive – one of their player’s wages per year is the equivalent of our entire budget – but the fact that we got here was tremendous,” said Parkinson.
When Carl McHugh left Donegal for Reading as a sixteen-year-old, he was fulfilling the type of dream most of...