The Bantams suffered their second defeat in four days at the hands of one of the division’s in-form sides, Colchester United.
Callum Harriott’s seventh minute strike put the hosts ahead before Marvin Sordell added United’s second just after the half hour mark.
City huffed and puffed for a way back into the contest but Phil Parkinson’s men seemed to lack the required attacking spark to break through the Colchester back-line.
The closest City came to getting on the score-sheet was Tony McMahon’s strike in the last minute which came back off the underside of the bar with Jamie Jones beaten.
With Rory McArdle sidelined due to illness on the morning of the game and Paul Anderson starting his long road back from a broken leg, Parkinson made as many as four changes for the Tuesday trip to Colchester.
Bringing Billy Knott and McMahon into midfield, Parkinson also elected to start with Steven Davies on the right wing and Devante Cole on the left, supporting James Hanson in attack in a 4-3-3 formation.
City had a golden chance of the game and it was one spurned by Hanson. Steven Davies worked very hard to keep the ball and find Lee Evans wide to his right, the Wolves loanee saw a cross pushed away by Jones but only into the path of Hanson, who passed the ball wide of the target from roughly six yards out with the goal barely guarded.
With Colchester’s first attack of the game, they took the lead. Blessed with pace, Harriott - on loan from Championship side Charlton Athletic - ran at Stephen Darby and unleashed a shot from a tight angle towards goal which squeezed under Brad Jones' body.
The goal was clearly a blow to City, who had undoubtedly started the game on the front foot.
Sordell, a forward who has spent much of his career in the Championship and the Premier League, was causing City some problems despite playing as a lone striker. After he saw an attempt deflect narrowly wide of the mark, his next attempt on goal found the back of the net.
Owen Garvan won the ball in midfield and threaded an incisive pass into the feet of Sordell and he had too much time and space to find the bottom corner from 12 yards.
Sordell then showed real quality and confidence to bring down a long, high ball forward on the halfway line before attempting to beat Jones from the best part of 50 yards out; his attempt was a very good one which dropped just a yard or so over the bar.
Just into the second half, a key incident which could have been a turning point. Matt Briggs and Steven Davies had a coming together and Briggs appeared to kick out at the City striker but the referee Mr.J Adcock deemed the incident worthy of a booking apiece for each player.
McMahon - in the side ahead of Gary Liddle in the holding midfield role - set his sights with a free kick from 25 yards after Evans was fouled by Garvan. His attempt went over the wall but went just a yard or so wide of the target.
Colchester could’ve had their third goal of the night with around 20 minutes remaining; first Sordell saw his angled drive kept out well by Jones and from the resulting corner kick, Tom Eastman, forward from central defence headed wide of the target when he found himself unmarked in the 18 yard box.
McMahon had another attempt in the last minute and it was the closest City came to beating Jones in the United goal. Evans’ corner was headed clear but only as far as the City midfielder who saw an attempt with his weaker left foot come back off the underside of the bar before being hooked clear.
Mark Marshall came on in the latter stages of the game and his attempt from distance in the last seconds of injury time went a yard or so wide of the target and that was just about that on a disappointing evening which saw the Bantams leave Essex with nothing. A big game and a Battle of the Roses coming up for City, who travel to Rochdale at the weekend.