April 2001: CITY 2 (Ward 16,87) DERBY 0

IT WAS the 14th and final Premier League victory for Bradford City – only five from that season.

The slide had begun as the Bantams succumbed to the inevitable relegation in the wake of the disastrous “six weeks of madness” under Geoffrey Richmond.

Twenty years ago today, it was a case of when and not if City’s top-flight dream would be over.

Bottom of the table, Jim Jefferies’ side showed little of the resistance that had sparked the great escape for Paul Jewell 12 months earlier.

Big reputations on big wages had failed to generate the fighting spirit that had confounded the critics previously. City’s exit from the Premier League was a drawn out and pitiful affair.

That magical August night against Chelsea aside, there were thin pickings for the Valley Parade faithful to get excited about.

Back-to-back home wins when the fat lady was clearing her throat were about as good as it got.

A week on from beating Charlton on Good Friday, the Bantams faced fellow strugglers Derby knowing that defeat would officially spell the end.

There was no repeat of the rollercoaster 4-4 draw from their last Valley Parade encounter but victory did at least stave off the drop for one more week.

Ashley Ward’s seven-figure arrival on the eve of the campaign had not gone well.

It had taken 1,392 minutes of trying before the well-travelled striker finally broke his Premier League duck against Man City – a 23-game scoring drought.

He would finish with a tally of just four – half of those coming in the win over Derby, one of his former clubs, albeit with the help of a deflection he knew little about.

The crowd who witnessed his double included around 1,500 fans perched in the newly-opened upper tier of the Sunwin Stand. They enjoyed arguably City’s most convincing performance of a dreadful campaign.

With nothing to lose, the hosts went at Derby in a very open start to the game. Benito Carbone’s free-kick proved too hot to handle for keeper Mart Poom, who redeemed himself by saving the follow-up header from Andy Myers.

But the Estonian had no chance with City’s opener on 16 minutes.

Stuart McCall’s darting run opened up the Derby defence before releasing Eoin Jess on the right. The Scot fired a low cross to the near post where Ward slid in and scored.

With City’s tails up, Ward had the chance of a second but looped his header over from a Wayne Jacobs cross.

Gunnar Halle was ploughing forward on the right and his deep cross picked out Robbie Blake to set up Gareth Whalley. But the on-rushing midfielder could not get a strong enough connection and Poom jumped to save on his line.

It was much better stuff for the success-starved City public and the lively Carbone set up another chance to start the second half that Ward nodded wide.

But Derby nearly levelled after McCall brought down Georgi Kinkladze 25 yards out.

Horacio Cabonari’s thumping free-kick was palmed out by Gary Walsh only as far as Rory Delap. He looked certain to score from the rebound but the City stopper managed to adjust himself quickly to get the faintest of touches to deflect the ball wide.

Walsh was called into action again to save from Kinkladze before Derby’s revival suffered a major blow when Seth Johnson was red-carded for a two-footed lunge on McCall.

Jacobs and Robbie Blake both went close to a second before Myers denied Burton at the other end. Carbone played in Whalley but the ball was whipped off his toes as he prepared to shoot.

The midfielder’s short pass then put City in trouble as Malcolm Christie intercepted and set up fellow sub Toddi Gudjonsson, who fell under Jacobs’ challenge in the box. But ref Neale Barry chose to book the Derby player for diving.

City eased the nerves by making sure of a rare win with three minutes left.

Carbone’s cross was half-cleared as far as Jess on the edge of the Derby penalty area and his shot flicked off Ward on the way to the bottom corner.

The Bantams had lived to fight another day and deserved it after a positive display.

The respite, though, would be brief as the following week they blew an early lead and missed two penalties to sink to a decisive loss at Everton. City's stint in the Premier League was up.

CITY: Walsh, Halle, Molenaar, Myers, Jacobs, McCall, Whalley, Jess, Blake (Grant 79), Carbone, Ward.

DERBY: Poom, Carbonari, Riggott, Delap, Boertien, Eranio (Gudjonsson 76), Johnson, Murray, Kinkladze, Burton, Morris (Christie 61).

REFEREE: Neale Barry