IT WAS chapter two in the trilogy of new year misery that eventually did for Gary Bowyer.

Having slipped up at Crawley, the Bantams turned in an even worse display against another struggler to go down 3-0 against Mansfield.

An equally listless defeat by the same margin at Oldham a week later would persuade City’s powers-that-be to act and remove the manager.

Now Stuart McCall’s side return to the scene of one of those crimes to face a Stags side still looking for a first league win of the season.

There are only four Bantams survivors from that dismal day – Anthony O’Connor Connor Wood, Ben Richards-Everton and Harry Pritchard.

O’Connor admits it is a score he is keen to settle this weekend.

He said: “It didn’t go too well for us last season so there is an incentive there.

“They ran us into the ground that day and we didn’t really show up. The lads who played in that game will want to do better and hopefully we can put that right.

“The ones who’ve come into the team this season will be reminded that we’ve got to be bang at it or it’s going to happen again.”

City aim to bounce back from their first loss of the new campaign after Monday’s televised disappointment at home to Harrogate – a “slap in the face” according to O’Connor.

“You can probably carry one or two players but when there are seven or eight not singing from the same hymn sheet, you’re going to lose games.”

It was the first home league defeat in almost a year – the same timespan since the Bantams last celebrated three points on the road.

But O’Connor feels the continued absence of any fans, something that will be discussed again by MPs on November 9 on the back of a supporter-led petition that has hit 200,000 signatures, has neutralised the impact of any ground advantage.

“It’s not as if the crowd can come into play,” said the defender. “You saw Man United losing 6-1 at home to Tottenham which is unheard of.

“There’s no fear factor going to Old Trafford at the minute because there’s no fans there getting behind the team. It’s the same everywhere.

“It’s something we have to get used to because of the situation we’re in. But I hope it doesn’t last too long.

“Having fans there gives you a buzz whether they are positive or negative. It’s not nice when the ground is quiet – sometimes it can feel like a training game.

“There’s no screaming or atmosphere when somebody has a shot just wide. Nobody is up on their feet clapping after a good bit of play, you just carry on.

“When I speak to other players, they all say the same thing – they hate it.

“You play football for the buzz of everyone in the ground and the excitement in the build-up to the game. It’s all part of it and at the moment it’s like a ghost town because there’s nobody there.”

O’Connor won’t look back too fondly on last month’s trip to Forest Green after his red card in the 2-2 draw.

But at least it was played in front of a reduced audience as one of the pilot tests for fans to return before the government pulled the plug again.

He said: “You can hear the fans shouting and saying different things and that gives the players a lift to see them there.

“There were also five or six Bradford fans outside the ground and even that helped. You’re thinking, ‘fair play, we’ve got to try and put on a performance for them’.

“We know our supporters are at home watching the games on iFollow but it’s not the same thing.

“I’m sure I speak for every footballer in the world when I say it’s a different feeling. But we’ve got to get on with it now for however many months this lasts.”