Mark Hughes’ Bantams were caught in injury-time drama as Mansfield Town equalised late on to secure a 1-1 draw at the University of Bradford Stadium this afternoon.
Andy Cook rose quickest from Adam Clayton’s corner just before the half-hour mark to net his 17th goal in all competitions, putting City ahead in a first half where the Bantams were on top.
However, Mansfield’s pressure intensified as the game grew, and they were rewarded through Alfie Kilgour’s header in the first minute of stoppage time, to ensure they left West Yorkshire with a point.
After over three weeks without a game at Valley Parade, City made sure to use the backing of close to 17,000 Bantams to their advantage, as they began the game strong.
Alex Gilliead, who captained the side in Richie Smallwood’s absence, won the ball high up in the Stags’ half and played a promising though ball for Abo Eisa, who forced a solid save out of Scott Flinders, just after five minutes.
Gilliead’s inviting cross, moments later, was headed clear before reaching Cook, and the returning Jamie Walker watched his low-driven shot whistle wide past the post.
It was just before the half-hour mark that Hughes’ side would make their first-half dominance count.
Cook, who was reinstated to the 11, rose highest from Clayton’s corner, and headed past Flinders to give City the lead.
The Bantams’ top goal-scorer came close once again, moments later, as his right-footed shot almost caught out the Stags stopper at his near post.
Nigel Clough’s side, despite starting slowly, began to have more of a foothold in the game, as Davis Kellior-Dunn’s header was superbly kept out by Harry Lewis.
The interval did not disturb the Bantams' spirit, as Cook had another chance to double City’s lead - though his half-volley from the edge of the area seconds into the second half was turned behind for a corner.
City’s No.9 continued to cause problems for the visitors in the second period, as he marauded through Mansfield’s defence and drilled a shot goalwards, but Flinders got enough on it to turn behind.
Mansfield continued to push for an equaliser as the game wore on, and grew in confidence towards the end.
Kellior-Dunn’s free-kick found the head of James Perch, which looked to loop over Lewis before Tolaji Bola, on his home debut, clawed his effort of the line.
The hosts were forced to defend their lines from set-pieces again, minutes later, as Kilgour’s header from a corner was acrobatically stopped by City’s No.1.
The visitors’ pressure eventually paid off, as Kilgour crashed home a header at the far post to level the game in the first minute of injury time, and see both sides leave with a point.
City were forced to settle for a point in the end, as Harry Chapman’s last-minute free-kick was held by Flinders, as the travelling Stags left BD8 with a point.
CITY: Harry Lewis, Brad Halliday, Matty Platt, Tolaji Bola, Andy Cook (booked 70’), Jamie Walker (Harry Chapman 75’), Alex Gilliead (C), Ryan East (Thierry Nevers 75’), Romoney Crichlow, Abo Eisa, Adam Clayton. Subs not used: Colin Doyle, Vadaine Oliver, Matt Derbyshire, Dara Costelloe, Sam Stubbs.
GOALS: Cook (29').
MANSFIELD: Scott Flinders, Elliott Hewitt, Lucas Akins, Ollie Clarke (C), Callum Johnson (Jordan Bowery 36’, booked 80’), James Perch, Stephen Quinn (Danny Johnson 45’), Kieran Wallace (booked 30’, Will Swan 45’)), Rhys Oates (Davis Kellior-Dunn 22’), Louis Reed (George Maris 10’), Alfie Kilgour. Subs not used: Owen Mason, Riley Harbottle.
GOALS: Alfie Kilgour (90+1').
ATTENDANCE: 18,755 (1,852 Mansfield supporters).