Bradford V Millwall at Wembley Stadium : Match Preview

19 May 2017

Romain Vincelot keeping nerves in check as Bradford prepare for play-off final

Bradford captain Romain Vincelot will not let nerves spoil his big day at Wembley on Saturday.

The Bantams face Millwall again, this time in the Sky Bet League One play-off final, and despite all the tension and hype the unflappable Frenchman is determined to enjoy every minute.

"I'm happy to be like that now. Call it experience, I don't know, but I don't really think too much about it," Vincelot said as the pre-match build-up gathered pace at Valley Parade.

"I just have my normal routine every day. I do the same thing in the morning, training, then in the afternoon I just go and walk my dogs and go home, that's it.

"I just try to keep the fire in my belly quiet for now and it will explode for the weekend."

Vincelot, 31, a self-proclaimed Anglophile, has spent the last seven years plying his trade in the lower reaches of English football and knows what it would mean to the fans if Bradford win promotion back to the Championship for the first time in 13 years.

He won a League Two play-off final with his first English club Dagenham & Redbridge in 2010 and lost with Leyton Orient in the League One play-off final four years later.

"I've experienced both feelings, so hopefully I will have a nice one this time," he said.

"Maybe it helps to be a bit more relaxed and maybe enjoy it more as well, every moment of it. That's what I really want to do.

"I'm not the only one as well, which is good for the team."

Millwall are hell-bent on exorcising the demons following defeat to Barnsley in last year's play-off final - the Lions had beaten Bradford in the semi-finals - but Stuart McCall's starting line-up will be dotted with players who have big-game experience.

Rory McArdle, whose solitary header against Fleetwood booked the Bantams' Wembley passage, scored in the 2013 League Two play-off final win against Northampton.

McArdle and fellow defenders Stephen Darby and James Meredith had also appeared at Wembley three months earlier in City's crazy League Cup adventure, while Nicky Law, Billy Clarke and goalkeeper Colin Doyle all have previous play-off final experience.

"A lot of the boys will be used to it," Vincelot said. "It's always a special occasion when you play at Wembley, but we have to keep doing the same things we've been successful with.

"On the day itself we will lift everything up. We know it's not going to be easy, Millwall are a tough team to play.

"They're quite physical and have experience as well so it's going to be a tight game I'm sure, but we're ready for it."

Neil Harris, meanwhile, is backing his Millwall team to learn from the heartache of last season's play-off final defeat against the Tykes.

Harris was in the Lions team that similarly lost the 2009 final to Scunthorpe, who they overcame in this season's semis, and who responded by earning promotion via the play-offs the following year.

Among his team-mates that day were Steve Morison, Tony Craig and Nadjim Abdou, who remain regulars in Harris' present team, and because of his experiences as a player, the manager can detect that this time they are ready to succeed.

"We had to regroup and go again - it's not easy," he said.

"The biggest similarity is we had really good leaders in that group (in 2010), and some young players coming through who were hungry, had legs, and drove the older players in training every day.

"That's a big similarity (with today).

"There's been a lot over the course of the season. We had difficult spells, and were questioned as a group.

"Experience of the day definitely helped. In 2009 we didn't perform to our best. In 2010 we were right at it, and very good, and got that little bit of luck, when Charlie Austin (then of Swindon) went through one-on-one and missed with 10 minutes to go with that bobble in front of him.

"You need that. You need both to perform to the best of your ability and you need a little bit of luck, and certainly to handle the occasion.

"The big games we've had this year, the play-off games and the final last year, and the FA Cup (run to the quarter-finals) this year, Charlton home and away, Bristol Rovers (a must-win to reach the play-offs), two Scunthorpe games (in the play-off semis) set us in really good stead.

"But there's no given right we're just going to perform - we have to make it happen."

Defender Shaun Cummings faces a late fitness test before Harris selects his team, but beyond him he has a fully-fit squad from which to choose.

Source: PAR