The Sky Blues produced a comprehensive victory in a frantic game at Valley Parade, as City recorded four successive league wins for the first time since November 2015.
Under the floodlights, Mark Robins’ men looked to shine at Valley Parade, hoping to pull themselves closer to the Play-Off picture after three consecutive league wins.
And the travelling Sky Blue supporters had barely settled in the stand before Jonson Clarke-Harris put City ahead in the 2nd minute.
Michael Doyle’s corner, swinging in from the right, was headed back across goal by Tom Davies; leaving the Bradford defence on the backfoot, and flicked on by Jordy Hiwula, the ball found Clarke-Harris just yards from the goal-line, who was given the simplest of tasks to nod the Sky Blues into the lead.
Five minutes later, and City were superbly denied the chance to double their early advantage. A pinpoint whipped cross from Junior Brown was met by the Sky Blues’ goalscorer. His header, directed toward the bottom right corner, was only stopped due to the acrobatics of Richard O’Donnell in the Bradford goal.
A dream start for City soon got even better for Mark Robins’ side as Conor Chaplin’s delightful finish gave the away side a 2-0 lead on 11 minutes.
After some promising attacking play from City, referee Ross Joyce pulled play back for a foul on Hiwula on the edge of the Bantams’ box. Approaching the ball with confidence, Chaplin took an assured run up, before curling the ball beyond the outstretched O’Donnell and into the top corner.
The team’s perfect opening quarter of an hour would have been a welcome relief to Mark Robins and his coaching staff, following all three wins of the club’s recent stellar form coming courtesy of late goals.
Though the hosts sought to halve the deficit, as David Hopkin’s team began to push forward midway through the first-half, the City backline held firm.
Limiting Bradford’s main attacking outlets – Eoin Doyle and Jack Payne – to shots from distance, a co-ordinated effort from the defence and midfield saw the majority of efforts closer to Lee Burge’s goal dealt with effectively.
Despite finding themselves in their defensive half for a sustained period, City maintained their threat in front of the Bradford goal. A slick through ball from Chaplin saw Dujon Sterling run towards the byline on the right-hand side, and with the angle narrowing, the Chelsea loanee unleashed a drive that flew narrowly wide of O’Donnell’s left post.
On the stroke of half-time, one of several Bradford penalty appeals were waved away, with the Bantams awarded a free-kick on the left corner of the Sky Blues penalty area.
An in-swinging delivery from Jack Payne was met by George Miller, whose header flew over Burge’s goal to ensure City’s two-goal lead was preserved, ahead of the second-half.
After the restart, City’s skipper did his best to mirror the side’s perfect start in the first-half, with his low in-swinging corner flashing in front of the Bradford six-yard box, agonisingly evading every player in the visitors’ white away strip.
With the Sky Blues support in unrelenting full voice as the second-half continued, City threatened to get in-behind the Bantams’ backline, with interplay between Luke Thomas and Clarke-Harris almost leading to the Sky Blues being through on goal.
Clarke-Harris was denied yet again by O’Donnell, close to the hour mark, after an archetypal Dujon Sterling bursting run and cross found the striker at the back post, but his header was stopped by the Bradford ‘keeper.
However, just a few minutes later, the home side made their mark on the game as the Bantams captain Anthony O’Connor’s header looped beyond Lee Burge to provide the hosts with a wave of enthusiasm that saw City’s lead under threat.
Though, not to be daunted by their opponent’s brief revival, City responded swiftly – with two near-chances from Hiwula and yet another Doyle set-piece – before the former restored the Sky Blues’ two-goal lead, less than five minutes after conceding.
After a seemingly unstoppable run from the left-wing, the forward sped past his opponents in the Bradford half, darting into the penalty bx with only the ‘keeper to beat, Hiwula kept his composure to find the far corner and score in consecutive games.
Moments later, and the Sky Blues support were in dreamland once more, as Tom Bayliss opened his goal account for the season. Following a trademark dribble, the teenager found himself with space on the edge of the box and slotted the ball beyond the Bradford ‘keeper on the 71st minute.
Despite the home side falling three goals behind, Bradford fans were given cause to cheer, as Anthony O’Connor scored an unlikely brace with a volley from the edge of the area, following a corner, in the 78th minute.
Flowing build-up from the Sky Blues, as Mark Robins’ side began to play with a stylish vigour, nearly resulted in a fifth goal, as Jodi Jones cut inside at the end of the passing move to force O’Donnell into action.
As the game continued to produce late drama on both sides, there proved more to come as the second-half entered its final moments. Bradford had the ball in the City net but their hopes of a late comeback were denied, as the referee ruled George Miller to have handled the ball – and, instead, showed the winger a red card.
The Sky Blues close-to perfect evening was almost capped off with another Chaplin free-kick, as the striker curled an effort with pace towards the left corner from the edge of the area, prompting yet another fine save from O’Donnell.
City fans were in high spirits as the final whistle sounded, with their chants continuing as they left the stands at Valley Parade.
Goals: Jonson Clarke-Harris, Conor Chaplin, Anthony O’Connor (2), Jordy Hiwula, Tom Bayliss
Yellows: Tom Bayliss, Tom Davies, Jack Payne, George Miller, Ryan McGowan.
Reds: George Miller.
Sky Blues XI: Lee Burge (GK), Dujon Sterling, Dominic Hyam, Tom Davies, Junior Brown, Jordy Hiwula (Jones, 67’), Michael Doyle (C), Tom Bayliss (Kelly, 75’), Luke Thomas, Conor Chaplin, Jonson Clarke-Harris.
Subs: Liam O’Brien (GK), Jack Grimmer, Jordon Thompson, Liam Kelly, Jodi Jones, Amadou Bakayoko, Jordan Shipley.
Bradford XI: Richard O’Donnell (GK), Connor Wood, Ryan McGowan, Anthony O’Connor (C), Nathaniel Knight-Percival, Lewis O’Brien, Hope Akpan (Gibson, 68’), George Miller, Josh Wright, Jack Payne, Eoin Doyle (Jones, 69’).
Subs: George Sykes-Kenworthy, Joe Riley, Alex Jones, Thomas Isherwood, Jordan Gibson, Eliot Goldthorp, David Ball.