GARY Bowyer glad-handed everyone in sight, players, officials, the media - and even clapped those fans who had taken his name in vain all afternoon.

The Salford boss once more enjoyed the last laugh on the club that sacked him 19 months ago.

His second City reunion ended with the same sting in the tail as the previous one at Valley Parade in April.

Only this time there was a crowd – and a packed away end – to witness Matty Lund floor the Bantams with a sucker punch at the death.

How Bowyer clearly enjoyed putting one over the vociferous travelling support who had launched into him from the start, although he did take exception to the manner of certain chants.

But he made a beeline for the City end at the final whistle to applaud those detractors and rub salt into the wound.

Then again, those who had been to Salford before, probably knew it was going to be another sore one.

This “dirty old town”, as the Pogues christened Salford in song, has witnessed some filthy performances from City.

“The easy answer is no,” admitted Richard O’Donnell when asked beforehand if there had been anything good to come from their two earlier visits to Moor Lane. “They’ve not been nice games to play in.”

Given the recent history, City’s keeper would have probably opted for a more favourable venue to clock up his 400th career appearance.

And the only one to have played in both Salford no-shows during Stuart McCall’s tenure suffered the hat-trick of defeats thanks to Lund’s late intervention.

It’s probably a close-run thing about what feels worse. A one-sided game done and dusted by half-time like last November or losing like this to a goal in the final moments?

For the first 89 minutes, O’Donnell probably couldn’t have believed how quiet an afternoon he’d had on a ground that has brought only misery.

Ian Henderson, with six goals in his last five appearances against City, barely raised a flicker and was subbed midway through the second half.

Conor McAleny, their nemesis with Oldham last season, had limped off early on when he did his hamstring.

Salford, in the main part, struggled to get anything on target past a defence confidently held together by Fiacre Kelleher in Niall Canavan’s absence and Paudie O’Connor, who temporarily took his injured partner’s armband.

But a clean sheet to mark O’Donnell’s big day would elude him. City have still not managed one since the opening day at Exeter.

The goal itself was a scruffy affair as Lund, a former Bantam loanee under Simon Grayson, stole in front of recently-arrived substitute Theo Robinson at the back post to knock home the corner from Josh Morris – yes, there’s an ex-City theme here.

The visitors paid the price for switching off at a set-piece, a lapse in concentration that cost them heavily.

But once more, as with the Walsall game, the fingers should be pointed at the other end of the pitch.

Derek Adams likes his statistical analysis but the figures in the final third will have made unpleasant reading.

The chances were not as gilt-edged as those that had gone begging against the Saddlers.

But City still had the opportunities to have settled a keenly-fought but fairly ordinary contest.

The big one came a minute into the second half.

Elliot Watt speared a diagonal ball into the path of the advancing Charles Vernam. His backheel took defender Liam Shephard out of the equation for Gareth Evans to cross unhindered.

His left-foot delivery was right on the button for Andy Cook six yards out; the connection with the header firm – Tom King’s instinctive block with an outstretched right hand brilliant.

Maybe Cook should have planted it nearer the corner of the goal but it was still a stunning reaction from a keeper just back from international duty with Wales.

King would pull off another double block to deny City’s centre forward but that was arguably the critical moment.

Hopes of burying those Salford demons had been dashed and the current form now reads just the one point from the last three games.

They could put a strong case for winning the last two – but if you don’t take your chances …

And that is the real bugbear for Adams. His team’s play was good enough up to the final third but it’s in there where it really matters that City are suddenly lacking.

The post-match twitchiness on Twitter was predictable. Three blanks in four – if you count the Papa John’s Trophy – raises inevitable concerns about the goalscoring capabilities of this team.

Lee Angol’s absence looks a bigger one with each game. Thankfully that operation isn’t needed because he cannot get back in the mix soon enough given the way he had started.

Cook valiantly tried to do the work of two men in his lone front role but regularly found himself fighting both centre halves.

Had Cook converted that header, you would have expected City to go on and clinch the victory against a Salford side who currently don’t look a patch on last season.

But then there were others around him who could have done better – Callum Cooke bending a shot wide, Evans not getting the right connection on a header, Watt skying from the edge of the box.

Attempts were blocked, crosses flew behind their intended targets, flashes of promise came to nothing.

That is the story in recent weeks and Adams looked pretty cheesed off going into Groundhog-Day mode about the opportunities currently slipping through their fingers.

He had been deep in conversation with Bowyer for a good 10 minutes before the game, City managers past and present with a common understanding of the huge pressure that will always accompany the position while the club languish at this level.

The 1,299-strong backing that filled one end accounted for almost half of the total gate. But that support naturally comes with expectation.

The Valley Parade fanbase has united behind the appointment of Adams, a strong hand at the helm with an impressive track record of success.

But, as Bowyer could tell him, the honeymoon period does not last forever.

“We didn’t deserve to come away with no points – we probably deserved the three on the chance we’ve had,” said Adams.

“The problem for a manager is that you’re only judged on wins, not chances. We need to be more clinical.

“We’ve dominated the last two games and created nearly 40 chances. That tells you we haven’t been able to finish off the opposition.”

And Lund’s bundling postscript made it another pointless trip across the Pennines. Some things, it seems, never change.