GARY Bowyer believes City are nicely positioned after hitting the halfway stage of their League Two campaign in fourth.

Yesterday’s 2-0 win over Mansfield at Valley Parade saw them cut the gap on leaders Swindon, where they go on Saturday, to six points with a game in hand.

James Vaughan’s penalty double made it six games unbeaten for the Bantams – and boss Bowyer feels they have laid the foundations for a strong promotion push in the new year.

He said: “There has been progress made at the club since the end of last season with the new bodies we’ve brought in, trying to gel a team together and the challenges that have been put in front of us in terms of the injury list and the illnesses that have ripped through.

“The lads have been terrific from day one in terms of their honesty, hard work, effort and commitment to the club.

“It’s an exciting second half of the season that lies ahead.

“We’ve got 26 points now from our 12 home games, that’s massively impressive, and nine clean sheets.

“Could we play better? Of course, but it’s about picking up points as we’ve said all along.

“Sometimes it’s not necessarily how you actually do it but just about getting them.”

Bowyer praised his team’s battling qualities as City returned to winning ways against the Stags after back-to-back draws over Christmas.

“We knew what to expect and I thought we stood up to it ever so well,” he added.

“It was by no means a classic game of football but ironic in the sense that we played better against Salford.

“We had more chances and played a better way, although I think the pitch was heavier than it was. You saw a different side to us that really pleased me again.

“We had a meeting with the players the day before and they spoke honestly again. They wanted more clean sheets.

“It’s not just the goalkeeper and defenders, it comes from the front. It’s a collective effort.”

Vaughan took his goals tally to nine after coming back from the virus that he had been struggling with in the last week. He was sick on the side of the pitch following his sub’s outing at Carlisle.

“What he did on Boxing Day was above and beyond,” said Bowyer, who made four changes yesterday.

“They were two fantastic penalties and just what you need. The second one especially was a test of character.

“But that’s the experience Vaughany’s got and the know-how that he’s been through that situation before.

“I think there should have been a third penalty. I saw it back and when the referee blows his whistle, the defender puts his hands to his head as if to say, ‘sugar, I’ve given a penalty away’.

“Then he realises the ref has booked Dylan (Connolly) for a dive. But I don’t understand why Dylan would go down when he’s desperate to score a goal.

“I thought the front two were a handful, especially with Dylan’s pace in behind them.”