ZAYN Malik might have been sitting pretty in a Valley Parade executive box but City still show few signs of heading in a League One direction.

More angst and anger spilled out at the final whistle as another couple of promotion-chasing points went begging.

Or, let’s rephrase that, City moved up a place to fifth with a fairly fortuitous draw against a Scunthorpe side who controlled the game for all bar about 10-15 minutes.

As far as the destination of this season goes, the picture remains as confused as ever.

But at least Luke McGee broke his Valley Parade duck after finishing on the losing side in both previous appearances at his new home with Peterborough and Portsmouth.

It was only down to his own sharp reactions that he managed to avoid an unwelcome hat-trick with two excellent first-half stops from former Bantam George Miller.

But McGee, who has travelled north with a big reputation, proved that his game has not suffered from 13 months in Fratton Park exile. City’s goalkeeping department minus the regular Richard O’Donnell looks in safe hands on this debut evidence.

If only the same could be said for the club’s ambitions of escaping the fourth tier at the first attempt after another afternoon that flattered to deceive.

The carnival atmosphere of midway through the first half when Valley Parade basked in the sunshine of City scoring twice in three minutes gave way to despondency by the time the floodlights cut through the darkness.

A second half playing second fiddle had inevitably led to a second Scunthorpe goal. Bowyer’s post-match praise at his side not caving to defeat at that point was just being grateful for small mercies.

Scunthorpe are a different beast on the road to the one that has lost three in a row at home. With three wins from their previous four away trips, Paul Hurst’s side travel with confidence.

But at 2-0 down, on the back of successive defeats, they were there to be finished off.

Instead, it was City who were hauled back and ultimately possibly the more thankful of the two sides to at least finish with something.

Bowyer was subjected to another brief chorus questioning his footballing methods from a section of the Kop as the general frustration spilled over.

While they might have advanced one place forward in the table, it could soon be three or four back with only one point now separating the Bantams from ninth.

The away form must buck up this week with consecutive journeys to Colchester and Mansfield or they will suddenly find themselves adrift from the play-off positions before the next home game a week tomorrow.

City must hit the road for both without James Vaughan after their leading scorer hit double figures in bookings with an over-zealous lunge.

Vaughan had netted again with an instinctive reaction to meet Connor Wood’s cross but you don’t get one side of his game without the other.

That little bit of devil that pumps him up can also prove his downfall and the Bantams pay the price for that now.

It stops the fledgling partnership with Eoin Doyle in its tracks – how the Irishman must wonder when his luck is going to turn.

Doyle looked more involved and more eager than he had done at Crawley when presumably his head was still in a spin following his recall from Swindon. His movement was alive, his touch keener on his first Valley Parade appearance since August.

That 24th goal – or first as far as the Bantams are concerned – continues to elude him but again there was a hint of “if only”.

A nonchalant flick over advancing keeper Rory Watson coincided with the assistant’s raised flag, although the enthusiastic response from the home crowd emphasised the current good will towards the prodigal striker.

But Doyle could feel hard done by if Bowyer was right with his view on the video. He was adamant the “goal” should have stood.

“It’s one for VAR but unfortunately we don’t have that,” he sighed.

Doyle had two other opportunities; one betrayed by a heavy touch in the penalty area after the smartest of turns from his marker and then, two minutes into stoppage time, a wild blaze high into the Kop after being teed up by Dylan Connolly.

At least, the striker had the satisfaction of supplying the assist for City’s opener on 20 minutes.

Doyle delivered a glorious pass into the path of Hope Akpan, one of five changed faces from the Crawley debacle.

The midfielder, starting for the first time since City lost at Plymouth in November, accepted the ball in his stride, eased past defender Jordan Clarke and then opened his body to coolly slot across Watson.

Clarke had pulled up with a calf injury in his pursuit of Akpan and was still getting looked at pitch-side when City struck again.

The Bantams had failed to press home a man advantage in 70 minutes of trying after Matty Lund’s early dismissal when the teams met at Glanford Park in September.

But this time they needed only three to make the extra numbers count as Wood exploited the space left by Clarke’s absence and Vaughan anticipated the cross to turn home from close range.

Vaughan had already hit a post and when his header from another Wood centre was pushed away by Watson, City seemed to have that 10th home win well in their sights.

But then, they took their eye off the ball.

While Wood earned managerial plaudits for his crossing, defensively he really struggled against Alex Gilliead.

The one-time Bantams wide man dominated their personal duel and got the Iron back into contention when he slipped past his opponent too easily to curl in a precise finish.

The momentum had shifted quickly and but for McGee’s reflexes, Miller would have levelled it up before the end of an entertaining first half.

The second belonged to Scunthorpe. Hurst, like Morecambe’s Derek Adams in the previous home game, had urged his players to exploit the edginess of the large Valley Parade audience.

The crowd grew chippier as City lost their way. The absence of anyone showing for Jake Reeves taking a late throw-in made that all too clear.

Scunthorpe deserved their equaliser, although again it was a defensive horror show as both O’Connors offered John McAtee all the space and time he needed to advance from halfway to shooting distance without challenge for his first senior goal.

Callum Cooke led one last City charge before Connolly set up Doyle but he slashed at the chance which disappeared into the fans.

League Two’s middle ground is looming large for a team that continue to under-achieve.