Against a Vale side who have been enjoying themselves immensely - testament to this arrived in that fact that home manager Darrell Clarke had just picked up his second successive manager of the month award - City prevented the Potteries outfit from winning an eighth successive home game for the first time since 1960-1.
Derek Adams’s side did it the hard way, showing great character and application to shrug aside a soft concession which allowed James Wilson to put Vale ahead on 56 minutes.
Parity was gloriously restored 17 minutes from time when substitute Lee Angol grabbed his first goal since mid-August with a classic centre-forward’s header from Matty Foulds’s inviting cross.
Both sides had chances to win it on an afternoon when Vale would have moved to the summit with victory and City would have gone into the play-off spots ahead of the 3pm kick-offs if they had triumphed.
But in the end, a point was fair between two sides who will surely be there when it matters in League Two when the daffodils come out in March.
Aside from not making a breakthrough, City had reason enough to be enthused by a first half which saw them threaten the in-form hosts, particularly in the shape of Charles Vernam who carried on from where he left off last weekend.
City fielded the same starting line-up who took the field against Exeter and presented issues on the counter-attack for Vale in the opening twenty minutes or so in particular - before the hosts started to pose problems and impose themselves on proceedings.
Theo Robinson, who netted in this fixture last season for Vale, was booed on his return to Vale Park and the striker - who had scored in successive games with a return of three goals in his past four games - spurned a good opportunity to silence the dissenters on 14 minutes with City’s most dangerous moment.
Watt’s perceptive pass found him in space down the right channel and his low half-volley was saved well by Lucas Covolan.
Moments before the break, Vernam found himself in space in a similar area from another Watt pass, but his fiercely-struck effort flew into the side-netting.
Earlier on in the half, Vernam, who looked to have the beating of Lewis Cass in particular, produced a fine cross which just evaded Robinson after dazzling wing play.
At the other end, Vale - who produced some early mistakes in midfield - gradually started to up the ante and force O’Donnell into some meaningful work.
The City keeper showed good reactions to tip away a dipping shot from James Gibbons which was otherwise destined for the net midway through the half and he also did well to beat away another excellent curling strike from distance from home captain Tom Conlon just after the half-hour -mark.
With the booming long throws of Dan Jones proving an obvious weapon, City had to be strong in their defensive work and were ably led by Yann Songo’o.
The one issue surrounded right wing-back Oscar Threlkeld, booked for an early challenge on Tom Pett and a little fortunate to escape a second caution with a foul on Conlon later on in the half.
Alert to the danger of Threlkeld possibly being dismissed for his next indiscretion, Adams wisely brought on Liam Ridehalgh at the break with Matthew Foulds switching to the right.
Playing in front of home supporters in the Bycars Stand, Vale had the first moment of threat on the resumption with Ben Garrity getting a clean connection to David Worrall’s cross from right, only to see his firm header fly off target.
Vale supporters were soon on their feet thanks to Wilson’s opener, moments after Vernam was scratching his head at the other end after somehow not managing to get a clean connection to Sutton’s assist.
It was a painful sixty seconds or so for City, with Vale breaking upfield after Vernam’s meekness with David Amoo beating several challenges to find Wilson.
Songo’o was unable to clear his lines and despite O’Donnell blocking Wilson’s initial effort, the striker netted the rebound.
City soon threw on Angol and Callum Cooke in a bid to change the narrative.
A fine inswinging corner on the left from Watt nearly did, with his set-piece latched onto by Paudie O’Connor, whose flicked header flashed agonisingly wide.
Fortunately, Angol showed the way with a textbook centre-forward’s header from Foulds’s fine centre.
Soon after, home defender Nathan Smith was cautioned after a clumsy challenge on Angol, who had threatened to surge clear, with Adams protesting to the fourth official that it should have yielded a red.
The free-kick was spurned by Cooke before Adams, clearly incensed by the earlier decision not to dismiss Smith, copped his second booking of the season for his protestations.
City continued to look the side more likely to grab the winner, but in the event it was Vale who nearly did - and perhaps should have - with substitute George Lloyd firing wide from point-blank range after being found unmarked in the box by Conlon.
At the other end, Covolan grasped a shot from Watt in what proved to be a dramatic - and at times tempestuous - finale.
Gillihead almost won it with a late low shot in stoppage-time for City.
Port Vale: Covolan, Cass, Smith, Jones, Worrall, Pett, Conlon, Gibbons, Garrity (Taylor 62), Wilson (Lloyd 64), Amoo (Rodney 62). Substitutes unused: Benning, Martin, Politic, Stone.
Bradford City: O’Donnell, O’Connor, Songo’o (Cooke 62), Canavan, Threlkeld (Ridehalgh 45), Watt, Sutton, Foulds, Vernam, Gilliead, Robinson (Angol 62). Substitutes unused: Eisa, Keleher, Evans, Hornby.
Referee: L Swaby (Devon).
Attendance: 7,010 (886 Bradford City supporters).