Charlie Wyke gave the Bantams an excellent start with a goal in just the second minute following a Paul Taylor corner which Oxford goalkeeper Simon Eastwood saved, but could not hold Shay McCartan’s goal-bound header which allowed Wyke to fire home from close-range.
How the Bantams didn’t go in at the break further ahead was baffling, but Eastwood seemed to be carrying out a lone rearguard action for the visitors, producing saves to deny Taylor, Wyke, Tyrell Robinson and centre-half Matt Kilgallon.
The only time City goalkeeper Rouven Sattelmaier was pressed into action came just before the interval when he rushed out to block an effort from striker Wes Thomas, who had been left unmarked in the box.
It was somewhat surprising then, that the visitors equalised in the 50th minute, Canice Carroll’s header from a Ricardinho corner silencing the home crowd. But Bradford quickly got back on top with two goals in five minutes.
First, McCartan restored their lead with a superb 25-yard shot into the left corner after 55 minutes before Tim Dieng added a third four minutes later when heading home a cross from the right by Robinson.
But there were to be some late nervous moments for the home side after Oxford pulled a goal back in the 75th minute through Jon Obika, home crowd then being made even more unnerved when their side was reduced to 10 men after Wyke was sent off for a foul on Carroll. But, ultimately, Stuart McCall’s side were able to see the game out.
Afterwards, McCall was full of praise for his players’ efforts.
“Some of the football we played, especially in the first half, was absolutely superb,” he said. “If it wasn’t for Simon Eastwood in the Oxford goal, we could have gone into the break much further in front.
“I am proud of the players and their efforts. We’ve had to dig in at the end but it would have been a travesty if we’d conceded late on.”
Bradford City: Sattelmaier, Hendrie, Knight-Percival, Kilgallon, Robinson, Dieng, Law, Vincelot, McCartan (Gilliead 72), Wyke, Taylor (Patrick 78). Subs Not Used: Thompson, Field, Hanson, Raeder, Gibson.
Oxford United: Eastwood, Carroll, Mousinho, Martin, Ricardinho, Van Kessel (Payne 74), Ledson, Ruffels, Rothwell (Henry 10), Obika, Thomas (Mehmeti 72). Subs Not Used: Tiendalli, Williamson, Shearer, Mowatt.
Referee: Eddie Ilderton (Tyne & Wear).