Mark Hughes, the manager of Bradford City (the Bantams), is filled with optimism as his team prepares for the crucial second leg of the Sky Bet League Two Play-Off Semi-Finals against Carlisle United at Brunton Park tomorrow. Hughes is pleased with the one-goal advantage his side achieved in the first leg at the University of Bradford Stadium last Sunday, which they will carry with them to Cumbria.
Recognising the importance of starting strongly in front of the expected large crowd at Brunton Park, Hughes emphasised the need for his team to capitalise on moments of dominance.
“I think we need to focus on positivity,” Hughes stated. “We are in a winning position, and if we play as well as we did on Sunday, we will come away with the reward of reaching the final.”
Reflecting on the first leg, Hughes highlighted the team’s strong performance in the first half, putting pressure on their opponents who appeared nervous. He stressed the importance of a positive start and the significance of converting opportunities during moments of ascendancy.
“I would much rather be in our position than in Carlisle’s. We have the confidence from winning the previous game. When we look at the last 10 games, we have had more victories than them – we are in a better place. There is no pressure on us. Our mentality is really strong at the moment,” Hughes explained.
This play-off campaign marks Hughes’ debut with the Bantams, and he hopes to carry the team’s effort, work ethic, and determination into the second leg and, ultimately, to Wembley. Recognising the psychological aspect of competitive matches, Hughes believes his team is in a comfortable position to complete the job.
“I enjoyed the occasion and the atmosphere of the first leg,” Hughes expressed. “It reminded me of my time managing in Europe. The feeling of leading the team onto the pitch, and when you achieve a good win as we did, you can take pride and build on that momentum for the next step. There is still work to be done, but it has been enjoyable so far.”
Remaining confident in their abilities, Hughes senses that the team is in a good state of mind and eagerly anticipates the upcoming match.
“I sense we are in a good place. I want to get the job done, as does the team. We are ready to cross the line,” Hughes concluded.