GARY Bowyer spent an afternoon last week phoning round fans in City’s late drive for season tickets.

But it is League Two calling loudly for the Bantams right now.

It’s no cold caller but an unwanted number that you hoped had been blocked long ago.

Sadly, the ringing remains persistent. No chance of getting this one off the hook because we all know the answer.

It’s now a case of when not if, as we all probably feared from that February afternoon they imploded against the 10 men of Walsall.

The Saddlers remain the side most within reach at a six-point distance and look destined to follow City through the trapdoor. The gap to so-called safety is up to nine – and pretty unbridgeable.

As he spoke with the local media high in the Memorial Stadium’s main stand, Bowyer admitted it was the lowest point of his brief tenure at the Bantams helm.

But whereas predecessor David Hopkin walked out on the back of that telling 3-2 defeat in the black country, Bowyer will use the emptiness he felt following the Bristol Rovers winner on Saturday as further inspiration for the rebuilding work to come.

That and the belief of the City fans after 12,000 signed up for next season. That “incredible” level of backing, as the manager called it, will drive him on through a crucial summer.

While City were ultimately succumbing to loss number 26 – and sixth on the trot – in this pitiful campaign, the queue outside the Valley Parade ticket office snaked around the corner.

The demand to beat the season-ticket deadline has remained keen like during the far happier times of Phil Parkinson and then Stuart McCall. The club’s gamble in maintaining their bargain prices continues to pay off, however difficult a watch the last year and a half have been.

After the apathy generated by Edin Rahic’s running down of such an upwardly-mobile team, the last week has proved that the strong bond with the supporters is still there.

It’s just the sooner we can get these four more games out the way, and shut the door on this dreadful season, the better.

Last year’s full clear-out was foolhardy; this summer’s looks a necessity to start all over.

The audience is willing – now it is down to Bowyer and the board to deliver.

It’s fair to say the City chief has a good idea of who of this current squad he sees in his plans going forward.

The shuffling of team line-ups in recent weeks suggests he is not going to be swayed by reputations.

Hope Akpan, his captain when he first arrived on the scene, was dumped to the bench in Bristol. Alongside him, Jermaine Anderson was similarly left to his own devices.

Anthony O’Connor, another former skipper, was also among the subs not to see any involvement in a defeat that again bore the self-inflicted hallmarks of so many before them.

Bristol Rovers, like Doncaster a week before, spoke afterwards about performing poorly – as they pocketed the three points. All three of their goals were “avoidable” in Bowyer’s eyes.

“I like the way we go about it between both penalty areas and the way we try and play,” he said. “But we’ve not been good enough in both boxes in too many of the games.”

That’s the infuriating thing. City were comfortable for long spells on Saturday, the first half hour especially.

Jacob Butterfield looked good on the ball but not so effective off it. Jack Payne and Lewis O’Brien were decent in patches; Sean Scannell threatened more than once.

Getting 72 minutes out of the winger as he nurses his way back to match fitness represented the biggest victory of the afternoon.

But then there were the familiar failings; not marking Jonson Clarke-Harris at a corner, conceding stoppable shots, allowing one man to score when there are four City bodies around him.

A generally encouraging performance again comes up empty-handed and nobody wonders why. That’s why the league table does not lie.

History suggested it was highly unlikely that City would formulate their escape plan against opponents who they had never beaten away in 13 attempts.

But, as with last season’s visit during the final weeks of the McCall reign, they blew a first-half lead.

The start could not have been more encouraging and was rewarded with a 15th-minute breakthrough.

Payne, restored to the starting line-up for the injured David Ball, drove in a low cross that keeper Jack Bonham blocked with an outstretched leg.

Jamie Clarke dallied on the loose ball and had his pocket picked by O’Brien, who thumped home with his weaker right foot.

So far so good but City failed to press home their advantage against clearly-rattled opponents.

Inevitably, they conceded a sucker punch before the half was out.

Richard O’Donnell made a meal of Liam Sercombe’s shot to give up a cheap corner – and Clarke-Harris, a striker with eight goals in his previous eight games, was afforded the luxury of a free header from it.

O’Donnell was again caught out by a Sercombe cross soon after the break as Clarke-Harris clipped the top of the bar.

Scannell looked lively for City and saw a shot blocked before it was Rovers who went in front, midfielder Ollie Clarke curling it low from 20 yards.

Facing the point of no return, the visitors did muster a response and were rewarded with an equaliser of their own. Butterfield’s clipped cross from a short corner being flicked across goal and in by Nathaniel Knight-Percival.

A second comeback point of the season still wasn’t enough as City chased the victory, pressing Paudie O’Connor into an emergency target-man role. Butterfield was a whisker away.

But the gamble backfired in the third of five added minutes when Rovers broke down the left.

There were still plenty of defending bodies in the City penalty area as Tareiq Holmes-Dennis put in the cross but Clarke-Harris was able to get ahead of Adam Chicksen to shoot through O’Donnell.

League Two expect their response imminently.