Sky Bet League 1
Bradford City 0
Preston North End 3 (Gallagher 47, Johnson 54, Humphrey 80)
Kick Off: 3.00pm
at the Coral Windows Stadium
Attendance: 16,032 (2,216 visitors)
Key defining moments proved costly for Phil Parkinson's men as the Bantams lost out to automatic promotion contenders Preston North End at a sun-drenched Coral Windows Stadium.
In front of over 16,000 supporters - City's biggest home league crowd of the season - second half goals from Paul Gallagher, Daniel Johnson and Chris Humphrey secured the points for the Lilywhites against ten-man City.
After a bright start from Parkinson's side, they were handed a crushing blow in the fourteen minute when Christopher Routis - back in the side at centre half to replaced the injured Gary MacKenzie - was given a straight red card for bringing down Joe Garner as he looked to burst clear into City's penalty area with only Ben Williams to beat.
Despite City's numerical disadvantage, however, they found themselves on the end of the best chance of the half just before the break when Tom Clarke's under-hit pass put Jon Stead through on goal.
Stead tried to beat Preston shot-stopper Sam Johnstone with pace but his effort was straight at the goalkeeper.
Following that near-miss, City got off to the worst possible start in the second period when Gary Liddle, who was playing at centre half at the time following Routis' dismissal, brought down Jermaine Beckford inside the box.
Williams saved Gallagher's resulting spot-kick but the rebound was slammed home from close range by a grateful Preston attacker.
Preston doubled their lead just seven minutes later when Daniel Johnson crashed the ball home into the top corner with a first time strike from around twelve yards after Humphrey's cut-back had fallen into his path.
With Preston's tails up at this point, Williams then had to produce a fine one-handed save just after the hour mark to repel a Beckford header from substitute Neil Kilkenny's cross.
To their credit though, City kept going and Billy Clarke forced Johnstone into a smart tip-over following the Irishman's delightful half-volley from around 25 yards out.
Preston's third of the afternoon came ten minutes from the end when Humphrey's drive from just outside the box deflected up off James Meredith before flying past Williams and into the roof of his net.
There was still time for City to go close again shortly afterwards but James Hanson's header from a Mark Yeates corner was kicked clear from in front of his own goal-line by a well-placed Kilkenny on the post. Ever get those feelings it just isn't your day?
FT: Bradford City 0 Preston North End 3
90+3min: Garner's shot from inside the area deflects up off Darby and behind for a corner.
90+2min: Yeates is surprisingly back on the pitch now after having his damaged shoulder looked at by City's physios.
90min: There will be three minutes of time added on at the end of the match.
90min: City are to finish the match with only nine men as Yeates moves gingerly towards the dressing rooms after seemingly damaging his shoulder again.
85min: SUB - Preston bring on Andy Little for Humphrey.
83min: Yeates' effort on the half-volley from just outside the box is straight at Johnstone.
82min: Hanson's header from Yeates' corner has to be kicked clear from right in front of his own goal-line by Kilkenny!
80min: GOAL - Bradford City 0 Preston North End 3 - Humphrey surely seals it for the visitors with a strike from just outside the box that takes a deflection before looping up over Williams' out-stretched hand and into the roof of his net.
79min: Clarke tries his luck on the half-volley with a great effort from around 25 yards and Johnstone has to produce a fine reaction save to tip the ball over and prevent it from nestling in the top corner.
79min: SUBS - With City having moved a back three during the second period, Liddle is taken off for Matthew Dolan. Apprentice winger Dylan Mottley-Henry replaces Morais for his senior City debut.
78min: Preston think they have scored again when Garner squares Scott Laird's cross into the path of Beckford to tap into an empty net. Preston celebrations are short-lived, however, as Garner is flagged for offside.
75min: Knott twists and turns into shooting space just outside Preston's penalty area but his strike for goal is accidentally blocked by his own player, Stephen Darby.
73min: Yeates' free-kick from around 20 yards out is kept out by Johnstone.
72min: YELLOW CARD - Chris Humphrey is booked for catching Knott a few yards outside the Bantams box.
71min: Yeates' free-kick from just outside the penalty area is headed away by the Preston wall.
66min: SUB - The Bantams bring on Mark Yeates for Stead.
64min: YELLOW CARD - Clarke is booked for tugging back Hanson as the striker ran with the ball down City's left flank.
62min: Kilkenny's cross into the area finds Beckford lurking but his header from around eight yards out is superbly repelled by a strong left hand from Williams.
54min: GOAL - Bradford City 0 Preston North End 2 - Daniel Johnson doubles Preston's lead with less than ten minutes of the second half played with a rasping left-footed drive into the top corner from around twelve yards out.
51min: Gallagher fires comfortably over the bar from around 20 yards out.
47min: GOAL - Bradford City 0 Preston North End 1 - Gallagher's initial penalty is saved by Williams but the Preston attacker is first onto the rebound to smash home from close range.
46min: YELLOW CARD - Liddle is booked for his foul on Beckford.
46min: PENALTY - The visitors are awarded a spot-kick early after the restart when Liddle brings Beckford inside the area.
HT SUB - Preston bring on Jack King and Neil Kilkenny for Welsh and Paul Huntington just the start of the second half.
HT: Bradford City 0 Preston North End 0
45min: There will be two minutes of time added on at the end of the first half.
44min: What a chance for City! Tom Clarke's under-hit attempted back-pass plays Stead in with a clear run on Johnstone's goal. Stead strides into the box before striking for goal but his effort is straight at the Preston shot-stopper.
43min: YELLOW CARD - Jermaine Beckford is booked for needlessly pushing Liddle into the path of Williams as the Bantams goal-keeper comes to claim a lofted pass forward into the City penalty area.
40min: After Garner is initially denied by a great tackle just outside the area by Rory McArdle, Gallagher plays the ball back into the path of the Preston striker but his curling effort from around twelve yards out flies narrowly wide of Williams' far post.
34min: YELLOW CARD - John Welsh is booked for a late tackle on Knott just inside City's own half of the pitch.
20min: James Meredith's long throw-in into the area is flicked on by Hanson into the path of Billy Knott. The midfielder shoots for goal from just inside the area but his effort deflects up off Filipe Morais and Johnstone is able to gather with some ease.
15min: Paul Gallagher's direct effort on goal from the resulting free-kick is straight at Ben Williams. City have now moved from their starting shape of 4-3-3 to a 4-4-1 formation with Hanson on the left wing and Stead up front on his own.
14min: RED CARD - Nightmare for the Bantams! After a positive start to the game for City, they are reduced to ten men when last man Christopher Routis is given a straight red card for bringing down Joe Garner a few yards outside the box as the Preston striker bore down on goal following Bailey Wright's booming header over the top. Gary Liddle will now go to centre half as a result of Routis' dismissal.
6min: James Hanson's flighted ball over the top from deep looks for a second like it has got Jon Stead through on goal but Preston goalkeeper Sam Johnstone is out quickly to the edge of his area to narrowly beat the striker to the ball and crucially clear his lines just in time.
0min: Preston kick off the match on a beautifully sunny afternoon here at the Coral Windows Stadium. With the atmosphere electric inside the ground, the Bantams will attack towards the T.L Dallas Stand end in the first period.
BRADFORD CITY LINE UP:
Williams, Darby, McArdle, Routis, Meredith, Liddle, Knott, Morais, Clarke, Hanson, Stead
Subs: Urwin, Dolan, Zoko, Yeates, McMahon, Webb-Foster, Mottley-Henry
Bradford City cautions:
Bradford City dismissals:
Bradford City changes:
Yeates for Stead (66), Dolan for Liddle (79), Mottley-Henry for Morais (79)
PRESTON NORTH END LINE UP:
Johnstone, Clarke, Wright, Huntington, Humphrey, Laird, Welsh, Johnson, Gallagher, Garner, Beckford
Subs: Stuckmann, Kilkenny, Davies, Woods, Little, King, Robinson
Preston North End cautions:
Welsh (34), Beckford (43), Clarke (64), Humphrey (72)
Preston North End changes:
King for Welsh (46), Kilkenny for Huntington (46), Little for Humphrey (85)
Referee: M Heywood
Assistant Referee: W Grunnill
Assistant Referee: R Wild
Fourth Official: T Bramall