A late equaliser from substitute Danny Rowe cancelled out Nathan Delfouneso’s 83rd minute strike, as late drama ensure a vintage match in West Yorkshire.
The match didn’t flourish in chances, but didn’t lack quality as Rowe buried the ball into the back of the net in outstanding fashion in the 93rd minute to snatch a late point for the Bantams.
The joint managers of Mark Trueman and Conor Sellars had been a revelation since taking the reigns at Valley Parade, having won 10 of their last 14 and embarking on a five game unbeaten run.
The Trotters have risen up the table following an upturn in form courtesy of a revamp from Ian Evatt, and cancelling out a poor start to the season to lift themselves into the play-off positions.
Connor Wood was making his 100th start for the club, and his 65th successive start since August 2019.
Bolton were looking for seventh consecutive win for the first time since 1996/97, whilst Bradford were targeting their sixth victory in a row for the first time since 1984/85.
Bradford City: Hornby; A O’Connor, P O’Connor, Canavan, Wood, Watt, Sutton, Vernam, Cooke, Crankshaw, Cook.
Bolton Wanderers: Gilks; Jones, Santos, Baptiste, John, Lee, Williams, Afolayan, Sarcevic, Isgrove, Doyle.
Story of the match
The game got off to a slow start, with the midfield congested and neither side really creating chances other than a Eoin Doyle strike that was blazed well over the bar.
Bolton continued to search for the opener, as Olodapo Afolayan delivered a teasing cross across the face of goal but Lloyd Isgrove was unable to steer the ball over the line.
The Bantams refused to keel over however, as Callum Cooke surged forward and threaded the ball into Andy Cook, but the ball bobbled up as he shot and it floated into the stands from the edge of the box.
However, the referee would take the game into the break with neither side yet breaking the deadlock, in a half lacking chances.
And it would take almost ten minutes into the second half for the first chance, as Declan John drove forward but was strongly tackled, allowing the ball to fall into Afolayan and his curling strike was acrobatically turned around the post by Sam Hornby.
The Trotters continued to dominate the second half, as Afolayan had a first half volley heroically blocked, a second cleared off of the line from Niall Canavan, the next saved well after Ricardo Santos could only poke at Hornby from seven yards out, and a final free header from Doyle headed wide of the target to a huge sigh of relief from Trueman and Sellars.
Bradford created their first real chance in the 79th minute, as a looping ball in the air fell to substitute Rowe on the edge, but his volley was wayward into the stands.
But in the 82nd minute, the breakthrough was eventually found - and in controversial fashion.
An outstanding through ball from Isgrove fell into the of Doyle, who cut inside of his man and powered a strike at goal. However, his strike took a key deflection off of Canavan and looped over Hornby, to finally be bundled over the line by Delfouneso. The referee waved away the offside calls, despite every Bradford player convinced the striker was ineligible.
Bradford immediately responded, as Leeds United loanee Jordan Stevens sent in a fantastic cross to the back post which was headed at goal by Anthony O’Connor and valiantly parried by Matt Gilks from close range.
The Bantams continued to push for a last ditch equaliser, as Rowe’s first strike was blocked by the wall and Elliot Watt’s follow up was barricaded by Mj Williams.
But as the clock ticked over into the depths of stoppage time, a long, ambitious ball from Levi Sutton took a few headers before eventually falling into the path of the eventual hero, Rowe, who smashed the ball into the far corner to send Bradford into absolute jubilance.
As the game trickled to it’s end, either side took a point from the game in a dramatic end at Valley Parade.
In what was one of the most anticipated games of the day in the EFL, it wasn’t one for the neutral.
Between the two sides, there was just four shots on target and two of them finished in a goal, with both coming as late on as the final ten minutes of the ninety. Bolton took the game to City with combatting their midfield and outrunning them, keeping Cooke quiet and neutralising any potential chances he could create.
Player of the match
Despite Rowe’s late strike, it was his assister which was outstanding today. Anthony O’Connor was a wall at the back, keeping Afolayan at bay and not letting him find the back of the net before eventually aiding Rowe’s goal.