Bradford 3-0 Northampton

Bradford celebrate victory

Bradford City secured promotion as they thrashed Northampton Town in the League Two play-off final.

James Hanson headed the Bantams ahead in their second Wembley appearance of the season and Rory McArdle nodded in Nathan Doyle's cross to make it 2-0.

The Bantams completed a dominant opening 30 minutes as Garry Thompson's second assist set up Nahki Wells to score his 26th goal of the season.

City held firm after the break to secure their place in League One.

Their victory and subsequent promotion back to the third tier of English football after a six-year absence will more than make up for the heartache of losing 5-0 Swansea in the League Cup final back in February.

And the crowd of 47,127 was the third-highest for a League Two final.

The match was Bradford's 64th of a season which saw them only just make the play-offs by finishing seventh, and there was a lot riding on the outcome for a club which was in the Premier League as recently as 2000-01 and eager to start climbing up the leagues once again.

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Bradford's promotion celebrations

However, their recent experience of playing at Wembley appeared to work in their favour as they looked sharper from the outset and far more comfortable on the grand stage against a Northampton side minus leading scorer Adebayo Akinfenwa, who was left on the bench by boss Aidy Boothroyd.

Wells had the Bantams' first attempt at goal, direct from a free-kick, but his shot flew over the bar.

Bradford's top scorer then headed over from a corner before Northampton's Ben Harding had to have his head bandaged as the Cobblers looked to attack at the other end.

City took the lead after Northampton failed to clear a loose ball and Thompson's chipped cross found the head of former supermarket worker Hanson, who nodded in his 15th goal on his 59th appearance of the season.

Phil Parkinson's side continued to press and within five minutes had doubled their lead when Doyle's cross to the near post found the head of McArdle and he diverted the ball into the bottom corner.

Wells then had a shot on the turn easily saved by Lee Nicholls before the Cobblers managed their first clear chance when Clive Platt headed Ben Tozer's long ball wide.

But they were again found wanting at the back soon afterwards as Kyel Reid's cross from the edge of the area found Thompson, who headed down into the path of Wells and the striker was free to score.

With the Bantams continuing to bombard the Northampton defence, Reid then went close with a header that was expertly tipped over by Nicholls.

Town began to make some inroads towards half-time, but skipper Clarke Carlisle headed wide of Jon McLaughlin's goal and that was as close as they came to finding the net.

Northampton started the second half in more positive fashion, but they were fortunate not to fall further behind as Carlisle almost turned James Meredith's long throw into his own net.

Thompson then fired wide from the edge of the area before Akinfenwa, finally introduced in the 55th minute to try and rescue the game, had his first attempt of the afternoon.

The 17-goal powerhouse, who came on for fellow striker Platt, found space to turn in a crowded penalty box, only to fire his shot past the upright.

Reid then had a good chance to widen Bradford's margin of victory when he fired wide, before superb link-up play with Meredith gave Wells a shot at goal that was well saved by Nicholls.

Akinfenwa jumped clear of the Bradford defenders late on, but his header was wayward as the City fans took to their feet to begin the promotion celebrations.

It meant boyhood Bradford fan Boothroyd's Northampton side would have to settle for a fifth season in League Two since being relegated in 2009.