Bradford City’s hopes of reaching the Sky Bet League Two final were dashed as they suffered a 3-2 aggregate defeat to Carlisle United in the semi-finals. The Bantams were unable to overcome a 3-1 loss in the second leg at Carlisle’s Brunton Park, which went into extra time before the hosts sealed their victory.
The match began with Carlisle United dominating play, but it was Bradford City who had the first notable chance. Scott Banks provided a cutback for Richie Smallwood, whose two attempts were blocked. Carlisle’s John-Kymani Gordon then came close to scoring with a left-footed strike that hit the post. However, just a minute later, Carlisle broke the deadlock.
Owen Moxon’s shot was saved by Bradford’s goalkeeper Harry Lewis, but unfortunately, Bradford’s Anthony Halliday deflected the ball into his own net while trying to clear it away from Gordon. Bradford City immediately sought an equaliser, with Banks connecting with Andy Cook’s knock-down, but his header hit the post and his subsequent attempt was saved by Tomas Holy.
The second half proved to be a tense affair, with both teams vying for opportunities. Paul Simpson’s Carlisle side came close to extending their lead, while Smallwood had a chance to secure victory for Bradford City in stoppage time. However, the game concluded with a 1-0 scoreline in favour of Carlisle United, necessitating extra time.
During the additional 30 minutes, Carlisle United took the lead in the tie on aggregate when Callum Guy struck a half-volley from 20 yards out. Although Bradford City managed to equalise early in the second half of extra time through substitute Matt Derbyshire, Carlisle quickly regained the advantage.
On-loan defender Ben Barclay, who had arrived from Stockport County, met Moxon’s cross inside the box and headed the ball home, ultimately securing the winning goal for Carlisle. Despite their determined efforts, Bradford City failed to find the equaliser they desperately needed, bringing their 2022/23 season to an end.
Carlisle United will now progress to face Stockport County in the Sky Bet League Two final at Wembley.