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Wells praises inspirational keeper Duke

Bradford City striker Nahki Wells says teammate Matt Duke has been a major source of inspiration on the pitch this season.

The 35-year-old goalkeeper has been one of the driving forces behind the Bantams’ extraordinary run in the League Cup this season and a shining example to his fellow colleagues.

Duke earned man of the match accolades following Bradford’s 3-1 League Cup semi-final first leg win against Premier side Aston Villa on January 8. He also made a series of clutch saves in the second leg in a 2-1 loss to Villa this week that catapulted the Bantams to next month’s League Cup final at Wembley Stadium.

The veteran keeper began his career playing pub football and has had a previous stint in the Premier Division with Hull City before joining the Bantams in 2011.

Wells, 22, said Duke’s experience and professionalism has had a positive effect on his teammates.

“Matt is an experienced goalkeeper who has been in the game for some time and played at the highest level,” the Bermudian striker told

The Royal Gazette. “To have that sort of experience in the group is so helpful. When you have a sturdy goalkeeper it just pushes right throughout the team and I think we’ve been great since he’s been in the sticks this season.”

At age 35 Duke is one of the most senior players in the Bantams squad.

“He’s overcome cancer (testicular tumor) and it’s a great achievement to see Matt doing so well at his age,” added Wells, who netted in City’s 3-1 League Cup semi-final first leg win against Villa at Valley Parade.

Another player that played a major role in the Bantams’ 4-3 aggregate League Cup semi-final win against Villa was striker James Hanson who scored a vital goal for his team at Villa Park this week.

The striker demonstrated his commitment to his team’s cause by taking an injection prior to kick-off after breaking his toe in the lead up to the match.

“We knew how important a goal was and ‘Big Game’ Hanson got it and I’m happy for him because he has played well lately but not rewarded with goals,” said Wells, who is City’s current leading goal scorer with 17 goals this term.

Hanson began his career playing non-league football with Eccleshill United and Guiseley while working at a local supermarket in Bradford.

He eventually signed with Bradford in 2009, scoring his first goal in a 5-4 away win against Cheltenham. The striker won the Player of the Year Award during his debut season with Bradford to earn a new, improved contract.

Wells said Hanson’s vital strike against Villa earlier this week would have done his confidence the world of good.

“A goal will help his form and help the team push on because at the end of the day it’s just not me out there scoring goals,” the former Dandy Town star added. “I’m happy for him and I know what it will do for his confidence. When he is on his game he is a handful and that’s all we can ask for.”

Bradford are the first fourth tier side to reach a major English domestic cup final in 51 years.

Rochdale were the last club from the fourth rung of the English football ladder to reach a major domestic showpiece when they lost to Norwich City in the 1962 League Cup final.

Incidentally, Wells scored a spectacular goal against Rochdale in the FA Cup last season.

Hall of Fame cricketer Cal (Bummy) Symonds had a playing stint with Rochdale in the 1950s.

Bradford host Wycombe Wanderers at Valley Parade today in a league clash.

Bantams’ ‘keeper Duke had a loan spell with Wycombe in 2006.

Bradford striker Nahki Wells

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Published January 26, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated January 25, 2013 at 11:43 pm)

Wells praises inspirational keeper Duke

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