They came from behind to lead through Matt Jay and Ryan Bowman, but conceded right on the stroke of half-time before missing some guilt-edged chances in the second half.
The result extended their unbeaten away record in the league this season, and manager Matt Taylor reflected on a seventh game on the road without defeat.
On the run of play
Both teams had spells in the match at Valley Parade where they were on top, and both certainly had further chances on top of the four goals that were shared out.
“I felt we were the better team,” said Taylor, who had a spell at Bradford in his playing career. “I felt we used the ball better, had moments, got into positions and created better clear-cut chances. But Bradford put us under pressure and got us deep at times.
“At times we showed what a great team we could be, but we’re not quite there yet. We should have seen it out. We should have seen out certain moments and defended our lead better than we did just before half-time. The first goal for Bradford was from our corner, but that shows what happens when you maybe switch off for one moment.
“We look a fantastic group of players, but then you go in level or behind and it’s a mountain to climb. Bradford went more direct in the second half and put our backline under pressure, but we still had those moments.”
Those moments brought some big late chances, none on a plate as much as a free header planted wide, on which Taylor couldn’t hide his despair. “The Randell Williams header, just hit the target. Make the keeper work,” he rued.
On the goals conceded
As well as missed opportunities, the Grecians could regret both of the goals that they conceded. Billy Clarke finished off an incisive counter attack from an Exeter corner, while Reece Staunton slotted in from a corner when he shouldn’t have been allowed the space to do so.
Taylor feels there is a significant contrast between their impressive play on the ball and their errors off it, and wants more consistency from his side in applying themselves to every situation during a match.
He said: “It’s almost as if the players spring to life in those moments (in attack), because they’re excited by them and passionate about them. But then you’ve got to passionate about the rest (of the game) as well, and that is a huge learning curve. As much as I’m trying to install that in them, they’ll learn from these experiences.
“If we want to be successful we’ve got to value it more. We keep being a good team at this level. Let’s try and get promoted by valuing those nitty-gritty moments, the set pieces, the transitions.
“We train it but players have got to turn themselves on as much in those moments as when they get possession. That’s where we are as a team – we’re not quite yet there.”
On team improvement
Exeter are 12 matches unbeaten across all competitions, and are the only team in League Two to have only lost once so far this season. But that run has been plagued with draws, not least on the road where six of their unbeaten seven have been ties, and Taylor admits they need to turn more of these games into three-point hauls.
“That’s where we are as a team, we’re not quite good enough,” he admitted. “We keep on doing it. We’re not quite good enough to convert these draws into wins.
“Maybe one day we will be if we keep this group of players. We work with them every day and we’re trying to get them to understand the key moments in a game are everything.
“I don’t want to be manager of a good football team which is unsuccessful, I want to be manager of a successful team. We’re working towards that.”