The Bantams fell to a first defeat in six at the hands of Coventry City, with Andy Rose’s fine volley from 20 yards proving decisive to hand Phil Parkinson's men a harsh defeat. City had chances throughout the game but it was Tony Mowbray’s side that came out on top to add another twist to City’s play-off chase going into the last three games of the season.
Lee Evans had the first chance of the match inside the first sixty seconds; after coming forward from midfield, he tried a shot from 25 yards out which took a deflection off Coventry defender Aaron Martin before being held onto by Reice Charles-Cook.
City were putting in all the early groundwork and Billy Clarke created a chance for himself after robbing Joe Cole of possession, and he moved towards the edge of the box before seeing a firm shot blocked by Southampton loanee defender Jack Stephens.
Mowbray’s men are clearly a strong team in terms of their attacking abilities and their first chance of the game came following a swift move forward. Adam Armstrong, who has 19 goals to his name so far this season, fed the ball wide to Sam Ricketts, and he cut inside onto his right foot before seeing a shot deflect behind for a corner kick.
Stephen Darby made a rare burst into the box before seeing a low cross blocked importantly by Romain Vincelot and shortly afterwards Josh Cullen tried his luck with a shot from distance which went a couple of yards wide of the target.
A home-grown talent who will return to parent club Norwich City in the summer, James Maddison saw a free kick 20 yards from goal deflect off the wall and into the air and under pressure from Vincelot, Ben Williams couldn’t claim the ball before City cleared their lines and breathed a sigh of relief.
Joe Cole was again guilty of surrendering possession in the middle of the pitch, and after McMahon had taken the ball off him, he whipped a low cross-shot to the far post and the ball was inches away from being latched onto by Proctor at full stretch.
Kyel Reid dug out a cross to the far post towards the end of the half, McMahon connected with a firm header towards goal but Coventry stopper Reice Charles-Cook held the ball well.
Before the half was out, there was a big appeal for a penalty. Ruben Lameiras got the better of Stephen Darby before appearing to go down under a tug from the City skipper. It looked a fair shout for a penalty but the referee wasn’t interested - much to the annoyance of the home crowd.
Lameiras created a chance for himself early in the second half. After flicking the ball over his own head, he looped a volley towards goal from 20 yards, but the ball went a yard or so over the bar to let City off the hook.
Just before the hour, Coventry made a double sub, introducing Gael Bigirimana and Rose to the action, and the latter scored what proved to be the winner with his first touch. The ball sat at up invitingly to the former Seattle Sounders midfielder, and he lashed a superb shot in off the bar on the volley, from 20 yards out. A superb finish, which ultimately proved to be the game-clinching goal.
Barely five minutes later, City spurned a real chance at a quick equaliser through Billy Clarke. McMahon’s cross into the box was controlled superbly by Proctor and he set the ball to Clarke, who placed a shot inches wide of the target from around 12 yards out. It was a let off for the hosts.
Young goalkeeper Charles-Cook was in inspired form for the hosts and he made a superb fingertip save to deny Evans after his looping header from Nathan Clarke’s long throw into the box looked to be heading into the far corner.
With City still pushing for a leveller, second half sub Steven Davies was given his marching orders in the latter stages of the game to hand the Bantams an untimely blow. He seemed to get involved in an altercation with Coventry defender Jack Stephens before the latter went to ground holding his leg. The referee was quick to give Davies his marching orders for what seemed to be violent conduct.
City continued to press and press for an equaliser and a share of the spoils late on despite their numerical disadvantage, and the Sky Blues had Charles-Cook to thank for his moments of brilliance in the final minutes. The agile stop-stopper showed superb agility to tip the Welshman’s low free kick away from the far bottom corner in added time.
Defeat means City’s cushion in the play-offs has been reduced to just two points with three games of the regular season remaining. Phil Parkinson’s side have an opportunity to bounce back at the Coral Windows Stadium this Saturday with a mouth-watering encounter home clash against promotion-chasing Walsall.