Bradford City 0 Port Vale 2: Bantams target for fans' anger... PLUS Bantams drawn away to Hartlepool in Cup

JUST how much further can Bradford City fall? Almost a decade to the day since an Arsenal side featuring Ashley Cole, Thierry Henry and Robert Pires were held to a 1-1 draw in league combat at Valley Parade, the Bantams sit third bottom of the entire Football League.

The season is, admittedly, only a month old but already four of five games have been lost and the patience of the natives is being stretched to breaking point.

To their credit, Bradfordians still turn out in such numbers to support their team that the city hosted the third-highest crowd of the weekend as the visit of Port Vale enticed 10,834 fans through the turnstiles.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

But, by the final whistle, the vast majority of those were trudging away with an all-too familiar sinking feeling after a second 2-0 reverse on home soil in succession.

That the performance had been much improved on the lifeless effort that had allowed Southend United to waltz away from West Yorkshire with three easy points eight days earlier was a small consolation. But that is all it was after another hugely frustrating afternoon for Bradford and their ever-loyal followers.

There had been no lack of effort, as even the most critical supporter would surely have acknowledged as they traipsed back into the city centre along Manningham Lane.

City put Vale's goal under intense pressure either side of the break and were unfortunate not to score, not least when Jake Speight spurned a simple chance on the stroke of half-time.

That said, however, there was also little doubt that much of the damage suffered by the Bantams was self-inflicted with Vale's second goal the result of a comedy of errors.

First, Tommy Doherty was put under needless pressure 25 yards from his own goal by a team-mate.

Then, in trying to avert the danger, the summer signing from Ferencvaros miscued horrendously an attempted pass back to goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin.

The upshot was the ball looping awkwardly towards the City stopper, who compounded the previous two errors by making a total hash of trying to control the ball and instead allowed it to bounce to the feet of Justin Richards.

McLaughlin tried to make amends by rushing towards the Vale striker, who proved far too canny with a neat flick that created the space to fire into an empty net.

Following on from Vale's opening goal on 33 minutes – when Marc Richards had been left unmarked to meet Gary Roberts's corner with an unstoppable header from eight yards – it was a clear case of Bradford again being their own worst enemies.

Not, however, that the officials were entirely blameless during the build-up to the former Barnsley striker's goal with rookie referee David Coote and a linesman missing a blatant Vale handball when awarding the initial corner.

It set the tone for a calamitous afternoon for Coote, promoted from the Conference refereeing list during the summer and whose only previous game this season had been the previous Tuesday's Johnstone's Paint Trophy encounter between Rotherham United and Lincoln City.

Not only did the Nottinghamshire official make a series of mystifying calls, he also gave what has to be one of the worst decisions of the season just two minutes after Marc Richards had opened the scoring.

When Roberts tumbled to the ground under a challenge from Luke O'Brien and the linesman flagged for a foul, the only decision could be a penalty.

Instead, Coote signalled for a free-kick on the edge of the area despite the offence having taken place a good four or five yards inside.

It was a major let-off for Bradford, and one that for the next 25 minutes or so either side of half-time they looked capable of capitalising on.

First, excellent play by Speight saw the striker wriggle past Gareth Owen on the byline before drilling a cross that John McCombe could only turn against his own crossbar.

Then, in first-half stoppage time, Speight missed the chance of the game when opting to try to control a header back across goal from Luke Oliver rather than simply stooping to nod into the open net.

After half-time, Bradford continued to press as Luke Osborne brought a save from Stuart Tomlinson and Marc Richards had to be alert to turn behind a dangerous cross from David Syers.

Then, however, just as City were building up a head of steam, Vale doubled their advantage as Justin Richards took advantage of the afore-mentioned mix-up between Doherty and McLaughlin.

Speight inadvertently blocking a goalbound shot from Gareth Evans seven minutes later was the cue for several supporters to make for the exits, no doubt hoping after this latest setback that the only way really is up from hereon in.

Bradford City: McLaughlin, Hunt, Duff, Oliver, Threlfall, Syers, Adeyemi (Moult 67), Doherty, O'Brien (Osborne 67), Evans, Speight. Unused substitutes: Saxton, Rehman, Williams, Bullock, Chilaka.

Port Vale: Tomlinson, Yates, McCombe, Owen, Collins, Fraser (Sutton 90), Roberts, Griffith, Rigg (Bell-Baggie 88), Marc Richards (Dodds 83), Justin Richards. Unused substitutes: Martin, Robert Taylor, Kris Taylor, Malbon.

Referee: David Coote (Nottinghamshire).

In the second round of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy, City have been drawn away to Hartlepool United.

Click here for the latest Johnstone's Paint Trophy draw.

Welcome to the Yorkshire Post's exciting match-day service, called Match Centre. Here you will find minute-by-minute updates, stats and team formations. Plus reports from every game in England, from the Premier League down to the Blue Square Premier.

Simply select your game from the pull down menu, then click on the 'i' information button on the right of the fixture and it will give you access to everything you need to know about your team.

So if you can't make it to a game, head for the Match Centre and we will give you the best seat in the house. Click the link below.

For the latest team news, score and commentary from your team check out our new Match Centre