March 1999: CITY 4 (Moore 13, Beagrie pen 25, Mills 34, Lawrence 45) NORWICH 1 (Roberts 48)

THE League One table makes incredibly depressing reading for City fans right now.

Bottom and six points adrift of safety, the grim prospect of returning to the fourth tier is looming large.

So, let’s brighten the mood by turning the clock back 20 years to much happier times at Valley Parade.

City were in the thick of a five-team race for automatic promotion to the Premiership with Sunderland, Ipswich, Birmingham and Bolton.

But a three-month unbeaten home run had been ended four days previously by leaders Sunderland.

It was only the second loss in 15 games for Paul Jewell’s men but the critics were ready to write off their chances of the top two.

The so-called experts thought the Bantams bubble had burst and were tipping Ipswich as the other team to go up automatically.

A Valley Parade visit from their bitter East Anglian rivals Norwich provided an emphatic answer to the doubters.

City came back with the most powerful of responses, leaving the pitch at half-time to a standing ovation having romped into a 4-0 lead.

The football on display was breath-taking as feathers flew among the Canary ranks.

The pick of the goals was the final one as referee Alan Wiley prepared to end the Norwich agony with his whistle for the break.

Jamie Lawrence had been as good as anyone in claret and amber stripes in those 45 minutes, charging forward on the ball and tackling tenaciously without it.

And he put the seal on a sizzling first half from City with a fine individual effort.

Picking up possession inside his own half, Lawrence ran directly at the opposition. He slipped one desperate tackle 30 yards from goal before racing on and calmly slotting the ball beyond keeper Andy Marshall.

That was the icing on the cake on a half that had seen Darren Moore and the returning Peter Beagrie, making a goal-scoring return from the penalty spot after three games out, put City firmly in control.

Beagrie then combined superbly with Wayne Jacobs to set up Lee Mills to hit the net for the 20th time of the season.

With Lee Todd bombing forward from right back, City looked to score at will. The only surprise was that Lawrence’s cracking finish was their last goal.

Instead, Norwich did manage to pull one back soon after the restart through Welsh striker Iwan Roberts.

And when John Dreyer was sent off 20 minutes from time for a professional foul, the visitors pushed to get back into the game even more.

But Norwich could not gain a foothold as City kept the visitors at bay with Gareth Whalley, especially, a tower of strength alongside Stuart McCall in central midfield.

There were impressive performances throughout the side. Robbie Blake, restored to an attacking role alongside Mills, also enjoyed his best game in weeks.

He was watched from the stands by Middlesbrough – and future Bantams – boss Bryan Robson and his assistant Viv Anderson as speculation grew that they were planning a bid.

But City had made it clear that the influential Blake was going nowhere. The team display then spelled out the same emphatic message to their promotion rivals.

The Bantams were going the distance.

CITY: Walsh, Todd (O’Brien 73), Jacobs, McCall, Moore, Dreyer, Lawrence, Blake (Windass 62), Mills, Whalley, Beagrie.

NORWICH: A Marshall, Sutch, Wilson, Grant (Llewellyn 46), Fleming, Mackay, L Marshall, Milligan, O’Neill (Forbes 46), Bellamy, Roberts.

REFEREE: Alan Wiley