A NIGHT high on perspiration but lacking inspiration ended with City taking the point that keeps them in the top seven.

They would have probably settled for that outcome against one of the division’s form teams.

Stockport have started to justify their billing as pre-season promotion favourites - although that did not look obvious on this evidence.

The Bantams will feel it is job done on that count but it was poor entertainment.

The most fun was had with the exchanges between Mark Hughes and some of the home fans in the main stand after his second-half booking.

City’s last Edgeley Park visit in September 2010 saw Peter Taylor’s side grab a scrappy draw against a team who would end the season dropping out the league.

Many of the sold-out 1,450-strong away end will have had much clearer memories of the January encounter 24 years ago when crackers from Robbie Blake and Peter Beagrie earned another three points in the march towards the Premiership under Paul Jewell.

In terms of quality, this will do well to linger in the mind for 24 hours. But City’s battling spirit cannot be knocked.

This is the sort of result that’s weight will only be felt if they can back it up next time - which isn’t now until a week on Saturday at home to Mansfield.

Hughes handed debuts to Tolaji Bola and Adam Clayton - with Harry Chapman missing out through illness and Jamie Walker sitting out his one-game ban for seeing red at Wimbledon.

Matt Derbyshire, another window recruit, was handed his first squad appearance on the bench.

But it was Stockport debutant Kyle Knoyle who could have made a spectacular entrance from their first attack. Ryan Rydel’s cross slipped through the City backline but the former Doncaster man skied his shot into the jeering away fans.

The early exchanges were all a bit helter-skelter with next to no time on the ball for anyone.

City, though, were screaming for a penalty after Alex Gilliead was nudged in the back by Will Collar. It looked a stronger contact than the one they conceded against Rochdale but ref Martin Coy was having none of it.

Hughes and Glyn Hodges were hopping up and down in their technical area as play was allowed to go on.

Stockport came close to breaking the deadlock from the night’s first corner on 17 minutes. Kyle Wootton rose in the pack to meet Knoyle’s kick but his header flew just the wrong side of the near post.

Wootton’s aerial strength was a threat and City struggled to clear their lines as he created more pressure before Ryan Croasdale screwed an effort wide.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Dara Costelloe got the nod up front again but made little impactDara Costelloe got the nod up front again but made little impact (Image: Thomas Gadd)

The home side certainly looked the more likely as the visitors struggled to take the game to them. But Clayton was creating a positive first impression with his calmness in possession.

Dara Costelloe and Vadaine Oliver had not seen much to work off - and the big man complained in vain when he got caught up in a tangle with Ryan Johnson fighting for a long free-kick.

Costelloe earned City’s first corner on 39 minutes but it was taken short rather than aimed at Oliver and quickly lost momentum. An unimpressed Hughes made his feelings known from the side.

City safely dealt with a couple of Stockport corners as the general scrappiness continued.

Harry Lewis, on a special night back at the ground where his late grandad Ken Mulhearn first made his name, had not had a save to make.

It was the same story for Ben Hinchliffe at the other end but Hughes and Hodges were both waiting by the tunnel for the referee as the half-time whistle sounded to repeat their protests at the earlier non-penalty call.

Abo Eisa had not really got into the game and ran into a cul-de-sac on the edge of the Stockport box as Costelloe tried to set him up soon after the restart.

The ball still resembled a hand grenade, particularly with Stockport looking to press at every City possession.

Oliver finally delivered the night’s opening shot on target - straight at Hinchliffe - which kicked off a flurry of activity in response.

Lewis shovelled a Collar effort round the post and then produced a reflex block to keep out Neill Byrne’s close-range header. The ball pinged off the keeper’s head and over the bar - his grandad would have been proud.

As Stockport upped the ante, the keeper’s unconvincing punch fell to Croasdale but he skied his instant shot.

Alex Gilliead then stood firm to take the midfielder’s well-struck drive in the midriff and Johnson headed just over from another corner.

Derbyshire came on just after the hour for Costelloe, who had hardly scratched the surface. But the same could be said for all of City’s attacking players.

The substitute latched onto Brad Halliday’s clearance to spark a counter-attack but squared the cross behind intended target Eisa.

City’s play remained ragged with misdirected passes and loose touches but Stockport were no better.

Hughes provided some light entertainment when he got in the way of Knoyle trying to take a throw in front the dug-out. The City boss was yellow-carded, sparking an amusing interchange with a few locals.

Andy Cook came on at the end and got a broken nose for his troubles from an aerial whack - but no sniff of a scoring chance.