WILL may have found a way but there was no Law of the Ex to condemn City again.

With memories of Will Atkinson’s spiteful return to Valley Parade still lingering after last week’s postponement, there were fears that Nicky Law would follow suit and bite the hand that once fed him.

He is Exeter’s top scorer this season on six and a goal return in 59 league appearances for the Grecians of 16 – four times what he produced from 78 games in the last of his three spells with City.

But after the late agonies of Port Vale, the back door remained firmly shut in Law’s face.

The only post-match cursing came on Callum Cooke’s Twitter account as the midfielder publicly held up his hand for a “moment of madness” that saw him suffer City’s third red card and a stinging rebuke from his manager.

Cooke did have the good grace to apologise straight away while thanking his team-mates for getting him out of the smelly stuff, to paraphrase his words, with a return to winning ways.

Law was subsequently booed as the victim of the loose challenge which earned City’s midfield king-pin his second booking – and a ban for the FA Cup visit to Shrewsbury.

But Bowyer knew the identity of the real culprit, the manager yelling at Cooke as he trudged head down off the pitch and loudly questioning why many of the home fans were clapping him off.

Bowyer’s post-match demeanour suggested it was still simmering - and one of the squad’s most influential figures could be in for a distinctly uncomfortable few days.

Cooke’s dismissal did knock some of the gloss over what should be regarded as a significant win over another team tipped to be up there in the promotion mix.

Not that Bowyer will thank anyone for agreeing with opposite number Matt Taylor’s assertion that both these sides are good enough to stay the distance.

“The next game is the biggest game. We don’t look further than that.”

The mantra of the Bantams boss can be recited off by heart by every Valley Parade employee. Maybe it is like a group prayer that they all repeat before training each morning.

But City can switch their attentions away from the unrelenting demands of League Two to the “glamour” of Shrewsbury in the FA Cup safe in the knowledge that they continue to lay solid foundations.

With a fortnight’s gap between league fixtures, it was important to head into the cup on the back of a convincing result.

Having chewed on Port Vale’s smash-and-grab for the previous week and a half, another home slip would have started the nerves jangling.

November’s fixture list appeared a daunting one with second-placed Exeter followed by lengthy away journeys to Colchester and Plymouth, two more clubs with top-seven ambitions.

With three points banked against genuine rivals, City can now attack the FA Cup “free hit” with confidence before the double-header of successive long hauls back on the league beat.

Not that it looked too likely in a first half hour when the ball seemed glued to Exeter feet.

After James Vaughan clipped the outside of the post early on, the visitors played like the home team and bossed possession.

But for all the attractive build-up play, there was nothing at the end of it. Everything was played in front of the defence.

City remained solid, if a little sluggish – something Bowyer blamed on the previous weekend’s inactivity.

It needed shaking up from somewhere. Not surprisingly, Harry Pritchard provided it.

What a signing he has been.

This time his first meaningful contribution was to aggressively charge down former Guiseley keeper Jonny Maxted in the Exeter goal.

The blocked clearance rebounded out for a goal kick – but his action breathed some energy into the crowd and team.

Cooke nearly played in Aramide Oteh before the on-loan QPR man played his part in the 31st-minute opener.

Adam Henley, preferred to Kelvin Mellor at right back, hung a dream of a cross to the back post where Oteh's aerial pressure on Pierce Sweeney helped bundle the ball into the net.

It was another on the growing list for "who's goal was it anyway". But even if Oteh's claims appeared fanciful, the way he attacked the ball had been decisive.

Oteh was again at the heart of City’s second as they struck again right on the break.

Pritchard lofted a ball over the top where the striker’s pace took advantage of dithering between Exeter’s centre halves.

Oteh was knocked down by a panicking Aaron Martin but the penalty shouts instantly disappeared as Vaughan poked in the loose ball.

A flattering interval advantage, maybe – but good teams take their opportunities and City are certainly starting to prove to be one of those.

The second half was, in Bowyer’s words, a “strange” affair.

A contest that was never dirty ended with three justified red cards.

Richard O’Donnell athletically blocked Exeter’s one shot on target, sticking out a right leg to foil Sweeney from close range.

The Grecians then went down to 10 men as skipper Jake Taylor paid the price for a scything lunge on Connor Wood.

But City lost their numerical advantage within two minutes as Cooke went in unnecessarily on Law. They never make things easy.

This time, though, there was to be no nail-chewing climax. A first clean sheet since September 14 was not seriously threatened again.

Dylan Connolly’s return to the bench gave Bowyer added strike power in reserve and he didn’t disappoint.

The Irishman had been desperate to join the fray, waving his arms fiercely to gee up the crowd during a warm-up run.

His impact was immediate, turning on the turbo to get goal-side of Tom Parkes. The centre half’s clumsy attempt to recover saw referee Michael Salisbury reaching for his top pocket for a third time in just over 20 minutes.

Connolly clattered the outside of the post with a swerving shot as City looked to make Exeter pay. Valley Parade could sit back and enjoy the final moments in relative comfort.

By a strange quirk of the fixture list, the home audience - which included owner Stefan Rupp sat beaming alongside Julian Rhodes - will not see their team back in league action until December 7.

A multitude of motorway miles await over the coming weeks. City’s bandwagon appears to be in decent nick for the journey.