Mark Hughes’ 10-man Bantams fell to a narrow 1-0 opening-day defeat to Crawley Town at the Broadfield Stadium.
Will Wright netted the only goal of the game, as his 30-yard free-kick curled into Harry Lewis’ bottom corner, shortly after Daniel Oyegoke was dismissed, to hand the Red Devils the three points.
The Bantams fought late to rescue a point in a rainy West Sussex, as Liam Ridehalgh thought he had headed home a leveller in stoppage time, but ultimately, they travel back to West Yorkshire empty handed.
City initially began the game the stronger of the two sides, as new No.10 Alex Pattison took advantage of the space on the left flank, but his whipped cross towards Ash Taylor was hooked clear by Jay Williams.
Jamie Walker was the first to test Corey Addai in the home goal. Cutting in from the left flank, the Scot shielded the ball from a number of Crawley defenders, before watching his strike comfortably held by the home goalkeeper.
Despite the strong start from City, it was Scott Lindsey’s side who would get on the scoresheet first. After a foul on Kellan Gordon, a free-kick from 30 yards was curled in past Harry Lewis by new signing, Wright.
City ended the half with multiple chances to level the game, as Walker manoeuvred through Crawley’s backline, and found himself one-on-one with Addai, but his poked effort was stopped by the legs of the Red Devils’ No.1.
In a similar vein, Richie Smallwood took advantage of the space between Crawley’s lines, but could only drag his low, right-footed shot into the palms of Addai.
As the hosts looked to counter on the break, Daniel Oyegoke, who had already been shown a yellow card for a foul on Dom Telford, brought down Danilo Orsi, and was shown a second yellow, leaving City with 10 men.
As the sun came out in the second half, Hughes’ Bantams discovered their early-game momentum, as nice work down the right-hand side by Pattison and Halliday, found Clarke Oduor in the middle, but the winger could not direct his effort on target.
Second-half substitutes, Klaidi Lolos and Aaron Henry both had promising efforts just before the hour mark for Crawley, all of which flew over Lewis’ net, as the hosts looked to put to bed any doubts of dropping the three points.
With 20 minutes remaining of normal time, the Bantams ramped up their search for a way back into the encounter, as Walker, once again, broke through the Crawley defence, but his shot whistled wide.
The Bantams continued their hunt for a equaliser deep into stoppage time, and came close to leveller through Ridehalgh’s headed effort, but Lindsey’s Reds hung on for three points on the opening day.
CRAWLEY: Corey Addai (GK), Kellan Gordon, Dion Conroy (booked 72’), Liam Kelly (booked 15’, Aaron Henry 46’, booked 90+3), Harry Ransom, Danilo Orsi (booked 90’, Rafiq Khaleel 90+4), Ronan Darcy (booked 30’, Klaidi Lolos 46’), Dom Telford (C, Kamarai Swyer 83’), Nick Tsaroulla, Jay Williams, Will Wright. Subs not used: Luca Ashby-Hammond (GK), Tobi Omole, Anthony Grant.
GOALS: Will Wright (14’).
CITY: Harry Lewis (GK), Brad Halliday (booked 64’), Liam Ridehalgh, Ash Taylor (Matty Platt 68’), Richie Smallwood (C, Tyler Smith 68’), Jamie Walker (booked 82’, Alex Gilliead 83’), Andy Cook (Matt Derbyshire 68’), Alex Pattison (Emmanuel Osadebe 83’), Clarke Oduor, Ciarán Kelly (booked 12’), Daniel Oyegoke (dismissed 40’). Subs not used: Colin Doyle, Ryan East.
ATTENDANCE: 3,387 (1,057 travelling City supporters).