Bradford City 1, Chesterfield 0

It will be one of those imponderable questions when the end-of-season inquests are carried out.

But how would City have got on if Peter Thorne had begun his campaign in August rather than November?

Thorne, fresh after Saturday's breather, once again showed his worth with a textbook centre forward's header this afternoon.

It was his 150th career league goal and the 12th in a Bantams shirt - all coming in the last four months.

Every team needs a poacher and Thorne's absence from the opening quarter of the season - when he did briefly play, he was never fully fit - hit City's plans hard.

Another six or seven games early doors might have produced another four or five goals - and maybe half a dozen extra points.

Then where might Stuart McCall's side be?

All conjecture, of course, as the Bantams continue to muddle around the middle.

The fans at least can enjoy a rare home win - only the second in six attempts.

But perhaps they should have expected it. This was the third year running that Chesterfield have left Valley Parade empty-handed - and not too many visiting sides can say that.

The Spireites have not even managed a single goal in that time. The cynics would say they are even worse on West Yorkshire soil than City!

Thorne's 16th-minute goal was reward for excellent build-up play.

Joe Colbeck charged through the middle, drawing the red shirts to him like moths to a flame, before slipping a pass to Ben Starosta.

The right back is always keen to get forward and he relished the open space created to deliver a deep cross right on to Thorne's head.

The striker's connection carried too much power for keeper Barry Roche, who could only palm it into the net.

Starosta was at it again within minutes, threading a lovely pass into the Chesterfield box between left back and centre half which was wasted by Colbeck's disappointing cut-back.

McCall had praised the desire shown at Millmoor and, watching from his lofty perch in the press box, the gaffer would have been impressed with Alex Rhodes.

The winger appeared to have lost out to Derek Niven after a surging run into the area but battled to win back possession while on the ground and drill in a cross which unfortunately caught his team-mates napping.

Chesterfield were clearly missing 25-goal hitman Jack Lester, whose broken nose from the weekend is threatening to derail their play-off push. Without him, they looked toothless for much of the first half.

Aussie defender Aaron Downes should have got more on a header at a free-kick but Chesterfield's only other effort was an off-balance lob well wide from Lloyd Kerry.

Starosta was almost operating exclusively as a right winger as City looked for that second goal. And Thorne got free out wide to whip in a dangerous ball that just eluded his target Colbeck.

City had the chance to crank up the pressure on the Chesterfield goal in time added on after Rhodes was bundled over level with the corner of the penalty area.

But the opportunity was wasted as Colbeck rolled it short for Kyle Nix, whose half-hearted shot was easily blocked.

The game had a flat feel but City were good value for their advantage.

Spireites boss Lee Richardson made his feelings on the first 45 minutes crystal clear by sending his team out well early for the second half - no doubt, with a few choice words ringing in their ears.

Chesterfield had to wake up as an attacking force and veteran battering ram Steve Fletcher tried to flex his muscles within minutes of the re-start when he launched into Loach on the end of a long cross from Gregor Robertson. Both missed it but City comfortably cleared up the potential danger.

Peter Leven, briefly a Valley Parade trialist in pre-season, launched a long throw-in into the box which was carefully cleared by David Wetherall.

Then centre back partner Mark Bower clashed with David Dowson, leaving the on-loan Sunderland striker on the floor.

Chesterfield's fans behind the goal appealed for a penalty but referee Colin Webster was unmoved.

It was a good little spell for the visitors, although still there was nothing to seriously trouble City's lead.

City nearly cashed in on the break with Willy Topp and Colbeck combining brightly to force the game's first corner.

It had taken 55 minutes but was not worth waiting for as Colbeck's kick didn't clear the first defender.

McCall, now back at ground level, made his first switch just before the hour.

Rhodes, one of three changes from Saturday, made way for Eddie Johnson as Nix shunted across to the left.

Colbeck was seeing more and more of the ball and giving marker Gregor Robertson a run for his money. And City's pacy threat increased when David Brown came on for Topp.

The Kop had woken up to provide the noisy backing which had been lacking up to that point. The volume increased as Brown's persistence kept the ball alive on the touchline and Thorne forced another corner.

A constant chorus of "Stuart McCall's Bradford Army" drummed round the ground and it did not waver as Chesterfield's attacking ambitions were twice thwarted by the imposing head of Wetherall.

Loach was finally called upon to make his first save as Dowson drove towards the near post. The keeper's block was strong and Bower got in the way of the follow-up.

The home fans kept singing from the far end as Chesterfield won back-to-back corners - and the second should have produced an equaliser for substitute Adam Smith, who scuffed over the bar from point-blank range.

It was a warning sign for the Bantams, whose advantage was starting to look precarious. It had been seven games since the last clean sheet at home, a run stretching back to January 12.

Bower was starting to tire in the closing stages, understandably as he played his second game in three days after so long out.

But Fletcher brushed him off to make room for an effort from the edge of the box which cleared the bar.

Bower then launched a clearing header forward that was missed by two Chesterfield players and dropped straight at the feet of the dimunitive Brown.

Downes, perhaps undone by the striker's low centre of gravity, immediately bundled him over and was rightly booked.

Nix's free-kick was deflected just wide but Chesterfield responded instantly as Starosta was caught out by Dowson.

The right back did not see Dowson closing him down and turned straight into trouble but was baled out by Loach, who turned the resulting shot across goal and away.

Brown won another free-kick on the break to lift the pressure and Thorne nearly earned City some breathing space when the ball broke to him ten yards out but his firm shot was well parried by Roche.

Thorne went off to a standing ovation with five minutes to go and replacement Barry Conlon almost scored with his first touch, heading over from the penalty spot.

But Conlon was trumped straight away by Chesterfield's newly-arrived sub Jamie Winter, whose 25-yard belter was arrowing for the top corner until Loach flew across his goal to tip it clear.

Loach was into the action again to beat away Smith's cross as the four minutes of added time began with another melee.

Even the keeper appeared in the box for a corner as Chesterfield desperately pushed for an equaliser.

The visitors must have regretted their lack of conviction in the first 45 minutes.

But the game ended with City on the attack and, for once, the supporters went home happy.

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