Bradford boss Phil Parkinson saw his selection gamble pay off as the Bantams warmed up for Monday’s FA Cup quarter-final replay with a 1-1 draw against Notts County at Meadow Lane.
Parkinson made six changes from his side’s midweek draw at Coventry as he looked to rest most of his star men ahead of the controversially-scheduled last eight clash with Reading.
And, while a much-changed Royals line-up were thumped at Watford, Parkinson’s men avoided a similar fate as they earned a point against their relegation-threatened hosts.
Jon Stead showed a timely return to form by sweeping home his 11th goal of the season in first half injury time before a Mike Edwards header pegged the visitors back.
Parkinson said: “Both ourselves and Reading had difficult team selections today because it is a very difficult task to ask the lads to go again in a high-profile game.
“We took the decision to rest players and those who came in were strong. We deserved the three points, but sometimes you don’t get what you deserve in this game.”
Stead was replaced early in the second half by fellow striker James Hanson, but Parkinson confirmed his substitution was simply a precautionary measure ahead of the Reading trip.
The relegation-threatened home side had started well, with Blair Adams missing an early chance and Garry Thompson’s point-blank header booted off the line by Gary McKenzie.
But Bradford grew in confidence and deserved their lead when Stead swung his right boot at a Francois Zoko cross and sent it into the net past home keeper Roy Carroll.
The Bantams should have extended their lead when Hanson sparked a mighty goalmouth scramble in the 65th minute with some visiting players insisting Zoko’s follow-up had gone over the line.
Zoko should have made things clearer with a 70th minute leader and the Bantams were made to pay for a series of missed chances when Edwards headed the equaliser past Jak Alnwick to secure a share of the spoils.
Elsewhere in League One, Sheffield United could only draw 1-1 at Scunthorpe United.
Neal Bishop fired the Iron in the lead before full-back Kieron Freeman netted an equaliser.
Doncaster Rovers slipped up at home, losing 2-0 to Peterborough United thanks to goals from Luke James and Conor Washington.
In League Two, York City were held to a 0-0 draw by fellow strugglers Carlisle United.