DAVID Ball has dedicated his first City goal - and home win - to good pal Stephen Darby.

The Bantams legend made an emotional return to Valley Parade on Saturday – his first appearance at the club since being diagnosed with motor neurone disease.

Darby witnessed City battle to a 2-0 win over Oxford, their first for eight games, to narrow the gap on the teams above the League One drop zone.

It was a first home success for his former Rochdale team-mate Ball, who had not signed when City previously beat Burton at Valley Parade three months ago.

Ball, who scored the opener, felt it was a fitting reward for such a popular club servant.

He said: “It was almost fate that I scored my first (league) goal while he was here. That wasn’t just for me, it was for Darbs.

“We could hear the songs from the dressing room and the gaffer said to us to use that. Everything was positive.

“Darbs loves the club and they obviously love him, so it was great that we got the win.”

With Wimbledon and Plymouth also winning, City are still bottom of the table as they head for fourth-placed Luton tomorrow night.

But Ball believes the team’s fortunes are starting to change in their fight to stay up.

He added: “You’re only human and it’s hard when you are losing games. It becomes as much a habit as winning.

“But you have to pull yourself through, keep doing the normal things around the training ground and getting together as a group of players.

“Once you do turn that corner, you get that little bit of confidence back and can look each other in the eye.

“You can’t let it get you bogged down. We’ve got players who can turn a game on its head and the more we start to win, the more you’ll see that come through.

“It’s been a while since I’ve been able to go home on a Saturday night and smile to my kids and partner.

“As a group we’re starting to believe we are doing the right things. We are working hard and running for each other and putting our bodies on the line.

“You saw at the end what this club can be like. People like Darbs and Jonah (Gary Jones) who told me to come here, you can see why they loved it.”

Latest recruit Karl Henry made his debut just 24 hours after signing a two-month contract. Ball can already vouch for the veteran midfielder’s hardline approach.

“On his first day in training he cut me down three times!” he added. “Straight away you knew that he doesn’t take any nonsense.

“Karl’s certainly a player you want in the same team and not against you.

“He’s been there and done it. He’s a good leader on the pitch.

“I know he’s going to be good for us. I think he will be a massive part of what we need to do.”

David Hopkin will appeal Nathaniel Knight-Percival’s dismissal for an alleged elbow on Oxford left back Jamie Hanson.

The Bantams head coach believes his side are beginning to build some momentum.

Hopkin said: “It’s only one defeat in five, at home to Portsmouth, and I think we played well in that game too.

“Things are slowly getting there and we have to build blocks, that’s what we are doing just now.

“We know it’s going to be tough to get away from where we are but the players are in good spirits.”