Shrewsbury 0 City 1

IT WAS billed as a week to test City's credentials as genuine promotion contenders after defeat at home to bottom club Plymouth.

That frustrating loss sent the keyboard critics into overdrive and with games against three of League One's top four to follow, including two away trips, the doom and gloom merchants were getting ready to fill their boots.

But six points out of nine is a resounding response to the doubters, even if City continue to do it the hard way.

Wins on the road over Wigan and now Shrewsbury sandwiched a Valley Parade defeat to Scunthorpe, which means they have won their last three away games and lost their last three at home.

The up and down sequence is providing a roller-coaster ride for Bantams fans but it is keeping them right in the mix at the top end of the table. Saturday's win over Shrewsbury means their last six league games read won, lost, won, lost, won, lost.

It might leave supporters tearing their hair out at times, considering the poor home form, but the mixture earns more points than getting bogged down in draws like last season.

As Stuart McCall pointed out, they were not playing for draws in the last campaign, it just seems that tight games are going one way or the other.

These last three games serve to highlight how much success and failure in football comes down to fine margins.

A 92nd-minute winner brought the points at Wigan, basic errors cost them defeat against Scunthorpe, while some good fortune and heroic defending saw them snatch victory at Shrewsbury.

The last week has seen a touch of the good, the bad and the ugly.

While City earned plaudits going forward at Wigan in one of their best displays, they shot themselves in the foot at home to Scunthorpe with poor defence.

This latest victory at the now deposed league leaders was a classic case of winning ugly, with McCall delighted at how well his team had done the 'dirty' work.

He was hoping to take the game to the Shrews like they did at Wigan but Paul Hurst's formation of 4-1-4-1 – set up more like an away side would – proved difficult to play against.

With Bryn Morris providing an extra layer of protection just in front of their defence, Charlie Wyke cut a largely isolated figure up front.

Morris had been restored to Town's starting line-up for the first time since the opening day of the season as Hurst looked to shake things up following their defeat to bottom club Bury during the week.

It freed up the impressive Ben Godfrey, on loan from Norwich, into a more attacking role and he headed just over with the game's first attempt.

The Shrews – who were without their midfield leader Abu Ogogo due to suspension – started much the livelier and Stefan Payne had the first clear-cut chance when Alex Rodman's shot fell to him unmarked just six yards out. Thankfully for City, the striker got his feet tangled up and the opportunity passed.

The visitors' chief tormentor was Shaun Whalley, who linked up well down the right with full back James Bolton.

He looked good on the ball, forcing Luke Hendrie to bring him down and earn a yellow card, and delivered numerous dangerous crosses. Godfrey and Rodman were on the end of two with headers just wide.

A snap-shot from Payne was well saved by Rouven Sattelmaier, who struggled with some of his kicking in the first half as he stepped in to replace the injured Colin Doyle.

City rarely threatened but for all the Shrews' dominance going forward, they could only carve out half-chances against a resolute Bantams back four.

The hosts started the second half on top as fancy footwork from Whalley saw him go past two players and cross for Jon Nolan, who completely missed his shot when well-placed.

Ten minutes in, McCall showed he was not content to sit back for the whole game as he brought on attacking youngster Tyrell Robinson down the left for Nicky Law.

The exciting prospect might not have produced his injury-time goal heroics of the week before but he again showed great promise with a lively display off the bench.

Within a minute, City took the lead with a superb counter-attack down the right-hand side.

Sattelmaier fed Tony McMahon with a throw-out and the full back played the ball down the line to Wyke.

The striker may have been shackled for much of the game but his first-time ball to Alex Gilliead was sublime and opened up the Shrews defence. Bearing down the wing, the on-loan Newcastle wideman looked to pick out Paul Taylor in support in the box.

The cross was diverted into his own net by the sliding Toto Nsiala, leaving another four-figure City following behind the goal ecstatic. It may have ended a scruffy goal but the build-up had been quality and was a notch on Gilliead's belt after he had expressed his desire to provide more end product.

The hosts went into their shell as City came much more into the game and thought they had scored a second goal when Wyke headed home a cross from McMahon, only for the official to rule the ball had gone out of play – much to the disagreement of the right back.

Gilliead had a decent effort after good play from Robinson before the Shrews found their second wind in a frantic finale.

Carlton Morris was thrown on as they went two up front, the substitute forcing a good save from Sattelmaier, who also blocked a Rodman effort before making a superb flying save from Whalley.

City became penned in their own half but refused to cave in. A spectator from the home end invaded the pitch and had to be restrained by two Shrewsbury players before being escorted off.

The Bantams kept their concentration as goalkeeper Dean Henderson joined the attack for one last push. The ball pinged around the six-yard box from a corner, looking almost certain to end in the City net but for some heroic defending.

The final whistle was greeted by cheers of relief from the City end as Taylor – rapidly becoming a cult hero among fans – did a victory jig.

On the other side of the pitch, keeper Henderson had to be held back from confronting away fans in an unsavoury end to the game.

The 20-year-old loanee from Manchester United had gone over to applaud home supporters and appeared to become angry at a section of the City crowd.

Shrews boss Hurst, who was also on hand to calm the youngster, played the incident down, insisting his players had to get used to taunts from opposition fans – providing they remained in good taste.