Bradford goalkeeper Matt Duke told the club’s fans he intends to return to Wembley in the npower League Two play-offs in May to make up for his dismissal in his side’s record 5-0 Capital One Cup final defeat to Swansea.
The 6ft 4in goalkeeper was sent off by referee Kevin Friend in the 56th minute after he brought down Swansea midfielder Jonathan De Guzman in the penalty area.
Duke, 35, who had no complaints with the penalty, felt Leicestershire official Friend could have shown some leniency instead of issuing a straight red card.
But after two goals apiece from Nathan Dyer and De Guzman and a first-half effort from Spanish striker Michu had reflected the gulf in class between the two sides, Duke vowed to return to the home of English football with the Bantams in the end-of-season play-offs.
“Today’s a massive disappointment,” said Duke, who will line-up against Dagenham in a league game at Valley Parade on Wednesday.
“But when we come to reflect on this in a couple of days or at the end of the season, or even in a couple of year’s time we’ll appreciate what a fantastic achievement it was.
“Hopefully the fans have had a great day and no matter about the result that they’ve enjoyed it.
“Fingers crossed we’ll be coming back in May to give them another great day.
“If we have a good run between now and the end of the season there’s no reason why we can’t get back in the play-offs.”
Bradford, eight points adrift of the top seven, beat Championship promotion-chasers Watford and Premier League sides Wigan, Arsenal and Aston Villa to become the first team from the bottom tier to reach a major final at Wembley, but Duke admitted it had been a bridge too far for City in a memorable competition.
“It was probably one step too far for us today,” said Duke, whose beating of testicular cancer is one of a number of heart-warming stories to have emanated from the Bradford camp this season.
“But hopefully we’ve done our bit to give lower league clubs a bit of inspiration to know that when they come up against a bigger club they do stand a chance.
“It’s credit to the staff at Bradford, the players and the support, who’ve enjoyed this cup run as much as we have.
“It’s not gone for them on the pitch so you just hope they’ve had a great day.”
Duke’s dismissal had little impact on the outcome, the 5-0 scoreline being the biggest winning margin in English football’s second major cup competition.
But Duke was still bitterly disappointed in referee Friend’s decision, which prompted manager Bradford manager Phil Parkinson to withdraw striker Nahki Wells and send on replacement goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin..
“I’ve just come to get a block on the ball and as he’s gone by me I’ve brought him down,” Duke said.
“It’s a penalty clearly, but he’d knocked it wide for a goalkick and it wasn’t my second (offence).
“So it was a bit harsh, but one of those things. Referees can’t show common sense now, they’ve got to stick to the letter of the law.
“If he thinks I’m last man then so be it. It’s very disappointing, but it can’t take away from what has been a fantastic achievement by this side.
“Credit to the lads for what they’ve done in the previous rounds and credit to Swansea as well for their performance today, it just shows what a great side they are.
“But it’s down to our league form now for us and we’ve got to get back on track with that.”