Bradford City 1

Chesterfield 0

As early Christmas presents go, this was more of the comfy jumper and sensible trousers to match than Xbox 360 variety.

Nothing flash or fancy or likely to stick in the memory for long. But just what was required.

The Bantams can head into the festive fixture rush in good spirits. There were no "Todd out" calls this time.

Maybe the three points were a belated birthday gift for the gaffer who had turned 58 watching his side somehow slip out of the FA Cup at Millwall.

Todd keeps reiterating that he was not feeling any pressure from City's rotten run. But this win will act as a timely tonic to his own well-being.

And as he pointed out afterwards, City have now won two out of three in the league. With two of the next three at Valley Parade, maybe the tide is about to turn again.

The decisive goal on Saturday took a long time to materialise, though City were always on top in a stodgy encounter.

We keep saying it every week but there are a lot of very ordinary sides in this division. Chesterfield are certainly one of them.

The big question, as always, is whether City can rise above the mediocre and find the form that we all saw in those golden games at the start of the campaign.

They always had too much for the Spireites, though it took nearly an hour to finally make it count.

Inevitably the goal was set up by Marc Bridge-Wilkinson, the most creative player on the pitch. It was almost as predictable that the finish should be provided by Dean Windass.

Even for Deano, a character as tough as old boots, the last week or two has been a trying time. The red card that sparked it was totally self-inflicted but claims of poison-pen letters and death threats would worry anyone.

Windass does not scare easily but it must have had an effect on him and his family.

Thankfully, though, he did not take his troubles on to the pitch, where he was a constant influence in anything going forward. His hunger to be involved was typified by the moment in the second half when he scrapped to win a ball wide on City's left flank and deep inside their own territory.

The chance that Bridge-Wilkinson put his way in the 57th minute was ample reward.

Chesterfield's one-time Bantams boss Roy McFarland was angry that the free-kick was given in the first place. Referee Lee Mason tried to play advantage after Jermaine Johnson was felled, yet again, by his marker Phil Picken but pulled play back when the winger lost the ball.

That gave Bridge-Wilkinson the opportunity to deliver from the right which he did with deadly effect, whipping in the sort of pacy free-kick that defenders dread. Windass, lurking in front of the six-yard box, gobbled it up greedily.

And that was that as far as the goals went.

Tommy Black had said that City could have gone another two days at Millwall without scoring. By that reckoning, Chesterfield could have seen in the new year at Valley Parade without stirring Donovan Ricketts from his slumbers.

Don't believe the statistics. Chesterfield's eight shots on target either bounced half a dozen times on route to goal or were no more than routine catching practice for the keeper from 25 yards out.

The only anxious hint for the big Jamaican came from a Kevan Hurst cross which caught the wind and needed watchfully pushing over the crossbar. Otherwise, it was a quiet day at the office for Ricketts on the way to his fourth home clean sheet on the bounce.

Now there is a figure worth noting.

The name Hurst may ring a bell. He's the left winger from Sheffield United that Todd thought was heading to City for the season - only for his agent to pull the plug at the last minute.

But he got little past Nathan Doyle to suggest that City should rue that summer decision.

With Lee Holmes hobbling, Black currently occupies the wide-left role. Although that may change if the initial diagnosis of a cracked rib proves correct.

It would be a pity to lose the little midfielder back to Crystal Palace because he has come on well as his fitness has improved.

But he wasn't quite as effective on Saturday where City, as always, looked to JJ on the other flank for inspiration.

And as usual, Johnson had the fans - not to mention his manager - jumping off their seats and tearing their hair out in equal measures.

That was summed up midway through the first half when Bridge-Wilkinson sprayed a terrific pass into JJ's path.

He was all alone to the right of the penalty box with options galore to exploit. He could have taken it on and shot or squared an early pass for the incoming Windass; he did neither.

Instead JJ cut in on his left, held the ball, allowed the retreating defenders to regroup - and then failed to pick out anybody from his pull-back. So frustrating!

City had already been denied one clear opening by a text-book tackle from Aaron Downes on Windass as the leading scorer bore into the area.

And the Chesterfield centre half repeated the trick with another expertly-timed lunge on Black to pull the plug on a slick City passing move through the middle. It was a double whammy for the home side as Black got injured in the process.

Eddie Johnson was also struggling with his shins and, like Black, did not reappear for a second half which had to be livelier than the first.

There was nothing wrong with City's stamina after their week of cruising up and down the M1 for the London triple-header. Todd had given them two days off after Millwall and restricted Friday's training session to 45 minutes of limbering up behind the Valley Parade stands.

It succeeded in restoring energy levels so there was no chance of a let-up in City's efforts as Saturday's game wore on.

There was no flagging either from Craig Bentham in his first outing since damaging his knee at Darlington in July. Replacing Steve Schumacher in central midfield was a big ask but he slotted in with the same composure he had shown in the tail-end of last season.

Snapping into tackles is his trademark but Bentham's passing, which has not always been the best, also picked up and few balls were wasted.

He did collect City's only yellow card for a hefty challenge but that comes with the territory. His partnership with Bridge-Wilkinson certainly stamped its authority on the middle ground.

With Windass finally breaching Chester-field's resistance, that should have been the signal for more goals to follow.

David Graham once again illustrated his sagging confidence in front of goal by rejecting an obvious shooting chance and overhitting a return ball to Johnson instead. And David Wetherall, still surprisingly without a goal in the campaign, should have opened his account with a header which Barry Roche pushed on to the bar.

But substitute Ben Muirhead was the guiltiest party after twice fluffing gilt-edged openings.

The first came from a run that was pure JJ. Three blue shirts were left seeing stars by the winger's dazzling pace and the pass that followed should have guaranteed a second goal - but Muirhead scuffed an ugly effort wide.

Then in stoppage time, a booming throw from Ricketts found Bridge-Wilkinson surging upfield on the counter-attack. Tom Penford, on for his first action since March, took the ball inside and volleyed a perfect pass into Muirhead's path but his shot was blocked by a desperate lunge from full back Alex Bailey.