City 0 Fleetwood 3

NOTHING in football is more predictable than the Law of the Ex – and City got it with both barrels from Fleetwood last night.

Jordy Hiwula and Devante Cole returned to Valley Parade to exact revenge on their old club with a goal apiece to condemn Stuart McCall's side to a second home defeat.

It was particularly sweet payback for boss Uwe Rosler after his side's play-off exit in May. The German won the tactical battle as Fleetwood recorded their first victory on City's manor at the sixth attempt.

There had been little between the sides in the four meetings last season, culminating in City edging the double-header in the play-offs.

The first half had hinted at another similarly tight tussle – but Fleetwood struck ruthlessly on the break to score three times in 19 minutes and blow apart City's six-game unbeaten run.

Yet the two teams had gone into last night's encounter in contrasting form. While the Bantams were on the back of successive clean sheets, Fleetwood had shipped two fours on the bounce.

After flying out of the traps with three straight wins, the Cod Army had claimed only one victory in their last five league outings.

City had taken 13 points from a possible 15 since last month's surrender at Walsall. Yet McCall had insisted there would be changes even before the weekend win over Northampton.

He swapped both strikers to pair Omari Patrick with Alex Jones, who was starting his first league game since Gillingham. McCall felt Charlie Wyke was due a breather after his hard work since coming back from a calf tear and the target man was on the bench.

Shay McCartan was also missing from the squad after pulling up when the substitutes warmed down at Sixfields.

Rosler had warned the hosts that Fleetwood's patchy form made them "unpredictable and dangerous". But there was nothing threatening about Bobby Grant's highly-ambitious 30-yarder that flew into the Kop in the opening moments.

Jake Reeves did better when City's opening corner was cleared by Hiwula into his path, testing keeper Alex Cairns from just outside the box.

Fleetwood had clearly done their homework and looked to press high in numbers to make it tough for the full backs to bomb forward, particularly Tony McMahon.

City had an escape on 15 minutes when Patrick dipped out of a midfield tackle, allowing the visitors to attack, and Kyle Dempsey smacked a low drive against the outside of the post.

Romain Vincelot launched himself at Alex Gilliead's teasing cross in response but could not get a touch. But the absence of Wyke meant City had to approach it differently, rather than just put balls in the box.

Vincelot was still in the mood after his recent spate of goals and charged down a Cairns clearance but Reeves was unable to find a clear lane to have a long-range pop at a briefly-unguarded net.

Hiwula danced his way past McMahon before Nathaniel Knight-Percival caught him inches outside the box. There was a nervous wait as the referee gave a free-kick and nothing more, while booking the defender.

Fleetwood looked the more likely to break the first-half deadlock, with City struggling to find a way to get the front two into the game. The ball was not sticking up top.

The visitors were starting to ask questions and Colin Doyle pushed away a fizzing effort from Lewie Coyle.

City needed a spark from somewhere – and nearly got it four minutes before the break.

Nicky Law moved forward with menace into Fleetwood territory and found Patrick, who twisted and turned Bell to create space for a shot. Cairns could only parry but Cian Bolger hooked the loose ball clear.

That lifted the crowd at the end of a half of few real opportunities.

City had generally been busy enough but it was a thankless task for the frontmen. Hold-up play was not a natural part of Jones' game, especially against three big centre halves.

McCall had clearly got into his players at the interval as they emerged with more urgency to their play.

The Kop cranked up the volume and were screaming for a penalty when Patrick looked to be sandwiched between two red shirts.

But just as City appeared to be upping the ante, it was Fleetwood who struck the first blow.

Inevitably it came from Hiwula after a rare mistake from Vincelot. His loose pass was picked up by Cole and he played in his strike partner to slide a shot past Doyle.

The visitors immediately carved another chance as Grant forced a save from Dempsey's cross.

Then Cole slipped through after Nathaniel Knight-Percival's headed backpass fell short  – only to be flattened by the on-rushing Doyle on the edge of his penalty area. Fleetwood wanted a red card but the keeper saw yellow.

Fleetwood had their revenge, though. Dempsey's free-kick was smothered by the wall but he reacted quickest to pick up the loose ball and deliver a low cross which Cole swept home at the near post.

Both the former Bantams had now made their mark.

It was a stunning one-two for the hosts and McCall reacted by changing both strikers, throwing on Wyke and Paul Taylor for a salvage act.

The home crowd rallied as City looked for some kind of quick response. Vincelot thought he had it but Cairns pushed his shot behind – and the skipper summed up the growing sense of frustration as he booted the goal post.

Nathan Pond shanked a clearance inches wide of his own goal as the revival continued.

Barring the odd boo, Hiwula was given a generous farewell by the City fans as he made way for Ashley Hunter.

But the substitute promptly carried on from where he had left off, sweeping the ball in from an angle on a Fleetwood counter to score with virtually his first touch.

That third goal killed off any hope of a fightback and Cole was kicking himself for not making it four with a floater that just cleared the bar.

It was immaterial by that stage as Rosler and the 99 travelling fans revelled in an unexpected but fully deserved success.