A second-half strike from Tyreik Wright was enough to see Town edged out 2-1 by Bradford City in the lunchtime Yorkshire derby at The Envirovent Stadium.
Jaheim Headley had fired Town level after Andy Cook’s first-half penalty, their first goal from open play since Alex Pattison’s strike at Gillingham, but they were undone by Wright’s strike that dashed their own hopes of taking all three points.
Simon Weaver made two changes from the side that fell to a late defeat at Stevenage last weekend. Into the starting line-up came Headley and Josh Austerfield with Lewis Richards and Warren Burrell dropping to the bench.
Mark Hughes also made two changes for the visitors with Brad Halliday and Tyreik Wright coming into the starting line-up.
The visitors made the early running with Dion Pereira cutting an influential figure. His early run and shot was high and wide beyond Pete Jameson’s goal but signalled early intent.
And on five minutes he again got a shot away, this time a deflection saving Jameson from having to make a save.
Town hit back well though; Jack Muldoon sprinting down the right and delivering an early cross that resulted in Luke Armstrong firing at goal to force Harry Lewis into a smart save.
Minutes later Muldoon was again in action, this time down the left, and he beat two men before cutting back and forcing a corner.
The early stages were fitting of a derby encounter and Town responded well to the early Bantams pressure but they were to fall behind on the quarter hour mark.
There was some debate as to whether the ball had gone out of play in the build-up but Harry Chapman was brought down from a mis-timed Kayne Ramsay challenge. Andy Cook stepped up and dispatched the spot-kick beyond Jameson in front of the raucous away following.
Sam Folarin harshly went into the book for a challenge on Pereira soon after falling behind.
Despite falling behind Town were quickly back in their stride. Josh Austerfield was well placed on the edge of
the box but his shot was high and wide.
Muldoon was proving an effective outlet over the opening half an hour, linking up well with Armstrong in a more central role. And his persistence in a Town attack fashioned a chance for Armstrong when he struck a dipping volley on goal that forced Lewis to scramble to his left and tip wide to safety.
Armstrong then whipped a low cross across the six yard box that skidded beyond the advancing Town forwards and Matty Daly fired an effort on goal just before the break but the effort lacked the control needed.
It was a positive finish to the half though from Town, outshooting their opponents but unable to get that much-needed goal.
But less than two minutes into the second-half that goal came. Straight from the kick-off Town were on the front foot with good interplay between Daly and Muldoon, with the ball falling to Headley who steadied himself before firing past Lewis.
Alex Gilliead went into the book after 52 minutes for tripping Muldoon. After conceding the equaliser the Bantams were clearly rattled, with the home crowd in good voice and sensing the opportunity for all three points.
Simon Weaver made a positive change ten minutes into the second half, introducing Josh Coley for Folarin.
Mark Hughes responded with a double-change of his own with Lee Angol and and Levi Sutton replacing Chapman and Pereira.
Cook had a great chance from the edge of the box to test Jameson but he snatched at the ball and dragged the effort well wide of the target.
Town were then grateful to Jameson for keeping the score level when he was forced at full stretch to turn away Richie Smallwood’s free-kick 20 yards from goal.
Next to was Lewis who ensured the game remained at 1-1. A neat pass from Joe Mattock freed Muldoon who turned and shot with his left which the visitors keeper palmed over for a corner.
With twenty minutes remaining both sides sensed victory but the Bantams struck a blow when a counter-attack resulted in a man advantage and Tyreik Wright poked home for his second goal since arriving on loan.
Looking to protect their lead heading into the final quarter the visitors brought on Yann Sango’o and Vadaine Oliver for Gilliead and Cook.
Town remained in the game but the intensity and energy shown over the course of the game was beginning to dip and despite three minutes of injury time they couldn’t fashion any late drama.
TOWN: Jameson, Ramsay, McArdle, Mattock, Headley, Folarin (Coley, 56), Austerfield, Pattison, Daly, Muldoon, Armstrong.
Substitutes: Oxley, Welch-Hayes, Richards, Burrell, Falkingham, Dooley.
Booked: Folarin (16), McArdle (80)
Goals: Headley (47)
Bradford City: Lewis, Halliday, Platt, Smallwood, Cook (Oliver, 79), Gilliead (Songo’o, 79), Foulds, Chapman (Angol, 59), Crichlow. Pereira (Sutton, 59), Wright.
Subs: Doyle, Sango’o, Odusina, Oliver, Young.
Goals: Cook (13, pen), Wright (73)
Referee: Peter Wright.
Folarin (Coley, 56)
Cook (Oliver, 79)
Gilliead (Songo’o, 79)
Chapman (Angol, 59)
Pereira (Sutton, 59)