THE coaches that the club had laid on for fans were stuck in the ice around Valley Parade.

Supporters had to struggle their way along the slippery roads before taking up the free travel offer to Bristol.

It is a sign of the times for City right now. Best efforts are falling short as the season threatens to be consigned to cold storage.

The chill of January shows no hint of easing – three defeats in a row, injuries, no green light on transfer-window recruits.

Saturday sent another shiver down the collective spine as the Bantams blew a half-time lead to lose against another side in the bottom half of the table.

The 777 away fans, a number swelled by those taking up the club’s transport scheme, shivered in the Gloucestershire gloom. No basking in the glow of a road record that has done City proud up to now.

Social media predictably crackled with indignation and hyperbole afterwards. Frustration seeped from every tweet.

Stuart McCall shared that empty feeling as he argued City should have gone home with at least a draw having gleaned a slightly fortunate advantage at the break.

One Twitter wag hit the nail on the head with his instant response.

“We came away with a point all right,” he wrote. “That point is SIGN SOME PLAYERS!”

McCall has to choose his words carefully but his reliance on others to drum up the recruits City are crying out for leaves him in a helpless position.

He is left with the hand he has been dealt with – and there are too many cards missing right now.

The absence of a fit right back forced him to come up with a formation at the Memorial Stadium without one.

Kelvin Mellor may not be the answer, who knows, but the Blackpool defender has suddenly become a key target in filling a gaping hole.

Tony McMahon certainly won’t be back against Rotherham tomorrow and the question marks remain as to what involvement he will have in future.

Even Jacob Hanson, who has found it tough after being thrown in recently, is out of the equation for a while because of his glandular fever.

Defensively, the lack of clean sheets – it’s now 12 games since City last kept a blank at Shrewsbury – highlights the need for more competition within the back four and goalkeeping department.

At least, the sight of Charlie Wyke back to doing what he does best came as a major boost.

His return shows the difference it can make if McCall is able to name the starting line-up that he would consider his strongest. That hopefully is not far away – but it’s not going to happen any time soon.

It’s that intervening period that should be the biggest concern for everyone connected to Valley Parade. The ground that could continue to be lost in the next few weeks may prove to be telling in the final shake-up.

Of course, as McCall stressed, a win at the New York Stadium tomorrow night would change the outlook. But given the way things are panning out, it looks a major ask against a Rotherham side now snapping at their heels just outside the play-offs.

For a long while, it looked like City’s second trek to the south-west in the month would prove far more profitable than that FA Cup fiasco at Yeovil.

Having been beaten by a team, Northampton, they never lose to the previous week, City were on course to register a first-ever away win against Bristol Rovers.

Without playing that well, they had engineered a slender lead at the interval and were growing in confidence.

The formation would have caused Rovers as big a surprise as it did the travelling fans and media as Timothee Dieng reverted to a defensive role he had not played since leaving Oldham.

The Frenchman was one of three centre halves as Romain Vincelot was kept in a three-man central midfield in between Tyrell Robinson and Alex Gilliead as wing-backs.

Rovers pushed up and closed down and City were unable to get on the ball in the early stages on a dreadful pitch that made you pine for Valley Parade.

But for all the home pressure, the only scare came from Stuart Sinclair’s half-volley that Dieng deflected past the post.

The visitors then stunned the boisterous crowd as Wyke, having recovered from his troublesome lower back, fired in a penalty after Ollie Clarke slipped and handled as he tried to block off Robinson.

Wyke cocked his ear and “shushed” the home terrace behind the goal – and would receive dog’s abuse for it for the remainder.

But things were on the up for City and Robinson nearly made it two before the break.

They came back out with an edge to their game – only to be pegged back by a soft equaliser seven minutes in.

Rouven Sattelmaier, preferred to Lukas Raeder in goal, made a good save from Liam Sercombe.

But Nicky Law slipped as he headed away the corner and it blooped up to Joe Partington whose shot into the ground bobbled through the sea of legs into the net.

Rovers had come from behind late on to win their previous home game against Portsmouth and sensed blood once more.

But City appeared to ride the storm until the closing stages and sub Dominic Poleon showed some menace on the counter.

Then it all fell apart as Matt Kilgallon’s clearing header pinged back past him off Ellis Harrison and the Rovers striker was into the box.

He flicked the ball over Nathaniel Knight-Percival, who caught him in the ensuing panic, and gave referee Lee Swabey the opportunity to appease the home audience with another penalty award.

Chris Lines sent Sattelmaier the wrong way from the spot and Goodnight Irene rang around the ground.

Vincelot could have silenced the Rovers anthem with a header that flashed past the post. But within a minute, the hosts cashed in on the huge holes now left in the City ranks for Sercombe to slam number three.

It’s nowhere near saying goodnight to City’s top-six ambitions at this stage. But they need some wake-up call to get going again.