GARY Bowyer made a winning return to Valley Parade when Salford pinched a late goal on a soggy night in April.

But Saturday’s clash at the Peninsula Stadium will have a lot more spice as 1,300 travelling fans follow City over the Pennines.

The former Bantams boss is likely to get a lively reception after his 48-game reign, which ended with the sack in February 2020.

Bowyer was unable to prevent City being relegated from League One but then steered them into a promotion-chasing position – only to pay the price after falling away with several poor away performances.

Here are some of the highs and lows of his 11 months at the Valley Parade helm.


It was a dream start for Bowyer’s City in March 2019 with a home win in his first game in charge. Hope of beating the drop was rekindled thanks to second-half goals from Jacob Butterfield, Eoin Doyle and Lewis O’Brien.

But it would prove a false dawn as seven defeats on the bounce would follow and lead to the inevitable conclusion.


Bowyer had realistically given up the ghost with a dismal defeat at Bristol Rovers the week before.

And relegation was confirmed with another flat performance against Coventry on Good Friday.

The early kick-off at the Ricoh Arena meant that the Bantams had to wait a couple more hours until their fate was officially sealed.

But this lacklustre effort, typified with Nathaniel Knight-Percival’s red card just before half-time in his final City outing, summed up why they were bottom of League One.


At least City bowed out with some sort of a flourish as the fans in fancy dress could enjoy a victory in the final away trip.

The Iron were also doomed to the drop but Bowyer’s side did get what bragging rights were on offer after an explosive start.

The visitors scored three times in the first 15 minutes through Billy Clarke, Jermaine Anderson and Doyle to threaten a landslide.

But Clarke, having the most influential game of his return to the club, went off injured at half-time and City were left hanging on as Scunthorpe fought back for a nervy finish.


The sun beat down on a packed away end as Aramide Oteh was mobbed by jubilant City fans.

Everything looked well with the world as the Bantams maintained their strong start to League Two thanks to goals from Hope Akpan and the QPR loanee.

But it would turn out to be the last time City won on the road for a year as reality was about to bite.


Having been given the run-around by Exeter’s slick passing style for the first 15 minutes, City steadied themselves to work towards a victory that would lift them up to second.

Oteh again and James Vaughan netted before the break in front of a jubilant Valley Parade audience that included a certain Stuart McCall.

The win at the start of November would be the high water mark of Bowyer’s time.


A dour goalless draw on a bitterly-cold Boxing Day in Cumbria did not live long in the mind.

The best chance of an awful game fell late on to Paudie O’Connor who skied it from 10 yards out.

But it was the afternoon that the fans turned against the manager – with a loud chorus from the away stand slaughtering the style of play.


TV football pundit Clinton Morrison was left eating his words after Shay McCartan's stunning last-gasp equaliser at the League Two leaders.

McCartan was joking that the Irishman must have thought he was Cristiano Ronaldo as he lined up the long-range free-kick.

But the stunning set-piece flew over the Swindon wall and in to earn Bowyer's side a huge point.

Unfortunately, they would pick up only one more before the manager would be gone a month later.


The discontent was building as City struggled against teams out of form.

Mansfield had not won a home game in three months but romped past toothless opposition – who failed to register a single shot on target.

Andy Cook was among the Stags scorers, coming off the bench to claim number three by which point many behind that goal had seen enough.


The high winds delayed kick off after an advertising board above one goal needed taking down with a cherry picker.

But Oldham wasted little time in blowing away the Bantams with three goals before half-time.

Anthony O’Connor slipped for Zac Dearnley’s early opener and it went rapidly downhill from there. With better finishing, Oldham could have doubled their tally.

A seventh game without a win had the 1,925 travelling supporters calling for Bowyer’s head – and the official announcement would soon follow.