Substitute Alan Connell struck late on to grab all three points for Phil Parkinson's men as they finally broke down the stubborn defences of ten-man Torquay United.
Connell netted the match-winner five minutes before the end of normal time thanks to a brilliant drive from the edge of the area after Nahki Wells' cross had eventually fallen into his path.
The well-taken goal clinched a deserved win for Parkinson's side after they had spent the vast majority of the game knocking at the door following Gulls skipper Brian Saah's 35th minute sending off for catching James Meredith in the face.
Torquay substitute Niall Thompson hit the post for the visitors minutes after the dismissal, but City took over thereafter, creating countless chances on goal and finding themselves almost camped in their opponents' half for large periods.
James Hanson found the bar with a thumping header from within the six yard box three minutes before the interval, while strike-partner Wells also saw an effort hit the woodwork when Torquay 'keeper Michael Poke pushed his angled drive onto the far post midway through the second period.
Despite City hammering away at Torquay's resolute defences, enjoying a large number of shots at goal and crosses into the box in the process, it looked like time might be running out for the Bantams, until Connell popped up to crucially find a way through.
FT: Bradford City 1 Torquay United 0
90+1min: Connell flicks for goal with a first time effort from just inside the effort but the shot lacks the power or accuracy to trouble Poke.
90min: There will be four minutes added on at the end of the match.
89min: SUB - Tom Naylor is brought on for Wells as City revert to a back four once again.
88min: YELLOW CARD - MacDonald is booked for a late foul.
86min: With Torquay now having to try and go on the attack after hanging on for so long previously, Wells leads a City breakway before firing in a fierce rising drive from just outside the area that Poke does well to tip over.
85min: GOAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Bradford City 1 Torquay United 0 - Connell blasts City into the lead with a superb strike from around the edge of the area. Wells' cross from City's left flank eventually finds its way through to Connell, who fires a brilliant drive into the far corner.
84min: Turgott's low cross into the area is deflected forward by Downes but Hanson still can't quite slide home at the far post, missing by inches.
82min: Connell fires wide of the target with a shot on the turn from just outside the penalty box.
81min: SUB - The Bantams bring on Alan Connell for McHugh. City have now gone to three at the back, with Doyle sitting just in front of them. Connell will play just behind Wells and Hanson.
75min: SUB - Damon Lathrope is brought on for Jarvis by the away side.
72min: Turgott finishes a surging run forward with a drive from just outside the area that whistles narrowly past the top far corner of Poke's goal.
70min: Twice within seconds of each other, Trugott tries to find Hanson with low crosses into the six yard box. The first cross sees Hanson have an effort blocked, while the second one goes just behind the striker.
70min: Wells' angled drive from around twelve yards out is tipped onto the far post by a great reaction save from Poke.
67min: Wells turns away from Daniel Leadbitter inside the area but his low drive from around twelve yards out is saved by Poke at his near post using his left leg.
66min: Doyle's rising drive from around 20 yards out is straight at Poke.
65min: Wells does brilliantly to spin clear of Downes and reach the byline before cutting the ball back. With Poke committed at his near post, Meredith and Hanson both have the chance to fire home but neither can quite get a shot in and Torquay eventually clear.
62min: SUB - Blair Turgott is brought on for Thompson.
60min: Accompanied by a couple of Torquay defender inside the area, Hanson tries to reach Thompson's cross but is inches away from doing so in the centre.
58min: Carl McHugh's header following Jones' in-swinging free-kick from wide is straight at Poke.
55min: YELLOW CARD - Thompson is booked for pulling back McArdle as the defender looked to stride forward into Torquay's territory.
54min: McArdle heads narrowly wide of Poke's far post following another Jones corner into Torquay's area.
51min: Jones strikes for goal from around 20 yards out but the effort is simple enough for Poke.
49min: Nathan Doyle fires over with a first time strike from just outside the area following Darby's cut-back.
47min: Thankfully, the Bermudian striker is soon able to continue.
46min: Wells is down receiving treatment after finding himself on the receiving end of a nasty tackle from behind.
46min: Torquay restart the match.
HT: Bradford City 0 Torquay United 0
45+3min: Phil Parkinson is enraged in the City dug-out as no penalty is awarded to his side despite Hanson appearing to be dragged over inside the area by Downes as the pair contest a hanging Meredith cross.
45+1min: Thompson heads over from around six yards out following Jones' corner into the mix.
45+1min: With Wells looking for a tap-in at the far post, Downes is perfectly placed to kick clear Atkinson's searching centre across the six yard box.
45min: There will be three minutes of time added on at the end of the first half.
44min: Hanson sends a weak header a couple of yards wide of the post following Darby's hanging cross towards the far post.
43min: Thompson's low angled drive from just inside the area is kept out by Poke before Kevin Nicholson smashes clear the rebound.
42min: Hanson hits the bar from barely yards out! The striker rises to meet Wells' searching centre but can only find the woodwork with a thumping header from within the six yard box.
42min: Hanson meets Stephen Darby's low cross with a first time effort on the half-volley from just inside area but Poke keeps out the effort with relative ease.
39min: Thompson glances a header a yard or so past Poke's far post following an in-swinging cross into the area from Atkinson.
38min: Thompson strikes the post for the visitors with a low drive from just outside the Bantams' area.
37min: SUB - Following Saah's dismissal, Torquay bring on defender Angus MacDonald for winger Danny Stevens.
35min: RED CARD - Torquay are reduced to ten men when their skipper Saah is given his marching orders for appearing to strike James Meredith in an off-the-ball incident following the award of a Torquay free-kick just outside their own area.
33min: McArdle sends a header a couple of yards over the bar from a Jones corner.
29min: Positioned around six yards out, Aaron Downes heads over the bar after being found lurking near the far post by a Nathan Craig corner.
27min: SUB - Niall Thompson is brought on for Bodin, who appears to have picked up a knock.
26min: Hanson heads wide with a far post header that goes out at the opposite side following a Jones corner.
23min: Wells fires over with a rising drive from around fourteen yards after racing into the Torquay area from a wide position.
22min: Thompson clips the back of Poke's crossbar with a flick for goal after Hanson's headed knock-down from a Jones corner had fallen into his path. Hanson, plus a large number of City supporters, appeal that the ball struck a Torquay hand had on its way through to Thompson.
19min: Billy Bodin fires comfortably over the bar with a hopeful effort from outside the area.
19min: Hanson's low first time strike from around twelve yards out is kept out by Poke after Garry Thompson's knock-down had fed the Bantams striker.
17min: Rory McArdle twice has to make vital interceptions to deny Daniel Leadbitter after the right back found himself in a decent amount of space out in a wide position within City's penalty area.
16min: Ryan Jarvis scuffs a low drive well wide of the target from around 20 yards out.
12min: Driving forward into space around 20 yards from Torquay's goal, Gary Jones fires forward but sees his shot take a deflection and loop up over Poke's crossbar.
9min: Play is briefly halted as referee Mr Bond changes his shirt to a black one to a green one to avoid a clash with Torquay, who are wearing their all dark blue change strip this afternoon.
7min: Wells comes agonisingly close to finding himself one-on-one with Poke as he tussles with Brian Saah for possession after a Hanson flick-on. For a second it seems like the striker has the better of the defender on the edge of Torquay's area but Wells can't quite get the ball under control and Saah eventually clear his lines.
2min: James Hanson is denied early on by a smart tip-over from Michael Poke after the striker had powered for goal with a header from a Nahki Wells cross.
0min: The Bantams kick off the match. They will attack the T.L Dallas Stand end in the first half.