Double from debutant Sky Blues skipper Reda Johnson not enough to prevent dramatic opening day defeat at Valley Parade
Coventry City suffered a dramatic opening day defeat to Bradford City at Valley Parade after twice coming from behind only to concede a third at the death.
Skipper Reda Johnson marked his debut with a brace, the first four minutes before half time after James Hanson netted a 27th minute opener for the Bantams.
The two came together three minutes after the restart though as referee Mike Dean awarded Bradford a penalty after a tussle in the box with Alan Sheehan duly converting to reinstate the hosts' lead.
Johnson was on target again with two minutes to go when he stabbed home from two yards but the Bantams responded instantly when Jason Kennedy's right wing cross picked out Hanson to head inside the near post.
Boss Steven Pressley named seven debutants in his first starting line up of the new season with goalkeeper Ryan Allsop, defenders Johnson and Danny Pugh, midfielders Danny Swanson and Jim O'Brien and up front duo Josh McQuoid and Marcus Tudgay all making their first competitive appearances for City.
The Sky Blues were just a whisker away from taking the lead in the first minute when a whipped in cross from Danny Pugh was not dealt with. Jordan Clarke nipped in and nearly lifted a finish over Bradford 'keeper Jordan Pickford but saw the ball also float just over the bar.
O'Brien then went close after 15 minutes when a perfectly weighted ball over the top from Pugh picked out the midfielder who ran across his marker, took a first touch which helped the ball past Pickford but then pulled his finish across the face of goal with Andrew Davies and Rory McArdle scrambling back to cover.
The home side very nearly crafted a moment of danger of their own six minutes later when McArdle lifted a cross into the area which Andy Webster fought to win and allow the Sky Blues to clear their area.
They went much closer after 23 minutes though and it required some last ditch defending from the Sky Blues to keep the score level. A deep cross to the back post saw McArdle head into the path of James Hanson who had the whole goal to aim at. Webster though got just enough on a block to slow the effort down and give Allsop time to scramble and stop the ball on the line.
The pressure eventually told though and four minutes later Bradford were ahead. Billy Clarke picked up a ball on the right and delivered a measured cross for Hanson to glance a header past Allsop.
Allsop came off the better a minute after the half hour when Mark Yeates burst into the box and cut inside Webster, firing from 12 yards but Allsop parrying the effort.
The Sky Blues got the leveller their early display deserved though and it came courtesy of debutant skipper Johnson. Pugh whipped a corner delivery at the near post and the Benin international fought off his marker to glance his own header past Pickford.
The second half was only three minutes old though when the home side found themselves back in front. A tussle between Johnson and Hanson in the box ended with referee Mike Dean pointing to the spot and Alan Sheehan converting to reinstate Bradford's lead.
Pugh had a dig at goal at the other end two minutes later with a set piece that drew a relatively comfortable save from Pickford.
Hanson showcased his danger again though a minute before the hour when he got round the back of Jordan Willis and tried to finish from a tight angle only for Allsop to cover his near post and block the effort.
The Sky Blues continued to underline their own threat from set pieces after 73 minutes when another devilish delivery from Pugh again found Johnson who caused chaos in the Bantams area, the hosts just managing to scramble away after a block on the goal line.
Substitute John Fleck then fancied his chances from distance with three minutes to go, pulling the trigger from 30 yards with Pickford having to beat away.
City got their equaliser in dramatic fashion though with just two minutes to go when Pugh again delivered into the box first for Tudgay to head at goal but with his effort blocked Johnson was on hand to stab home from two yards.
There was time for another twist though when, on Bradford's very next attack, Jason Kennedy whipped in a cross which saw Hanson ghost in at the near post and head just inside the woodwork in the final minute and snatch all three points.
Attendance: 14,621 (1,406 Sky Blue Army)
Coventry City: Allsop, Willis, Pugh, Webster, J Clarke (Miller 77), Johnson (c), C Thomas (Fleck 64), O'Brien, Swanson, Tudgay, McQuoid
Subs: Burge (GK), Daniels, Phillips, Haynes, Maddison
Bradford City: Pickford, Darby (c), Davies, Sheehan, Liddle, Hanson, B Clarke (McLean 85), Knott (Dolan 70), Yeates, Kennedy, McArdle
Subs: Urwin (GK), Meredith, Shariff, Morais, Heaton