City produced a hard fought victory over League 1 strugglers Hartlepool United in the biting North Eastern temperatures. Albeit the tie was ultimately decided from the penalty spot, but it was still an encouraging team performance where The Bantams probably looked the better side away from home.
Picture kindly provided by Frank Reid - Hartlepool Mail
Fully fledged attacks were kept to a minimum in the first half, but the first real chance of the game forced McLaughlin into a smart save after Simon Walton had thundered a shot towards goal from inside the area.
City's first decent opening came after Alan Connell had cleverly turned and picked out Garry Thompson with an accurate pass, Thompson's resulting shot from 15 yards sailed over the bar.
Hartlepool's next chance forced an outstanding save from McLaughlin; Noble and Wyke played a neat one-two and Wyke's shot looked to be curling in at the far post but for the agility of the City stopper.
On the stroke of half time Ryan Noble was released by an incisive through ball, his shot from an angle was palmed over the bar by an 'in form' McLaughlin.
Ritchie Jones was handed a great opportunity to score against his former employers when Thompson's low cross was neatly flicked into his path by Connell, his shot though was dealt with by Scott Flinders.
James Hanson then missed a gilt-edged chance when he headed wide at the back post after Thompson had done brilliantly to get past Darren Holden and find a cross.
The hosts inadvertently had a great chance of scoring when McLaughlin only half dealt with Jonathan Franks' corner; with McLaughlin stranded Antony Sweeney powered a shot towards goal but Andrew Davies headed off the line.
Substitute Nahki Wells almost had an immediate impact when he cut inside to wriggle free of Neil Austin, his fierce angled drive was beaten away by Flinders to deny The Bermudian his third goal in four days.
With 4 minutes remaining Ravenhill headed Thompson's teasing cross against the crossbar with Flinders grasping thin air, and in the dying moments Franks and Noble delivered dangerous crosses that were inches away from being met by an on-rushing blue & white shirt.
The tie headed to a penalty shoot-out and despite Thompson hitting the first of City's penalties over the bar, The Bantams recovered and well taken spot-kicks from Nathan Doyle, Nahki Wells and Alan Connell saw Phil Parkinson's men through to the area quarter final of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy.