CITY rekindled their love affair with Valley Parade to give Mark Hughes the perfect Valentine’s present.

Home wins have been playing hard to get for the Bantams boss who didn’t want his side to be left on the shelf after their Stevenage success.

Hughes urged his team to seize the opportunity - and they did just that with goals from current sweetheart Jamie Walker and old flame Andy Cook to lift City back into the top seven.

Not surprisingly, Hughes had stuck with the same side that had battled their socks off to become only the second visiting team to win at Stevenage. That meant a first home start for Matt Derbyshire and Sam Stubbs.

The bench was also unchanged so Scott Banks, who did not travel at the weekend, again missed out.

Tranmere had picked off Salford at the weekend and leaders Leyton Orient a couple of games before but have been hampered by inconsistent results.

Still, as Hughes warned, City needed to be at their best against a traditionally stubborn opponent.

Tranmere had also not lost in their previous four Valley Parade visits - only conceding once on Good Friday last year.

There was a late change of ref as fourth official Thomas Parsons stepped up to take the whistle after Simon Mather pulled up during the pre-match warm-up.

Tranmere sent an early warning as left back Ethan Bristow flashed a ball across City’s goal that was just begging for a touch.

Walker was clearly buoyed from scoring Saturday’s winner and made a bright start. One darting run earned a foul 30 yards out but the free-kick flew straight through to the keeper.

City were looking to get forward but without creating anything to warm those who had been allowed out on a chilly Valentine’s evening.

Tranmere presented well-drilled resistance but carried a threat on the break in the pacy Bristow who whipped another teasing cross through the goal mouth.

But that came at a big price for City as Derbyshire went down in the centre circle as he tried to track back. The veteran striker was forced off after treatment with what looked like a hamstring problem as Abo Eisa took his place.

Grumbles at City keeping possession in midfield nearly turned into cheers as a slick move involving Andy Cook and Eisa built up for Walker to lash over from just outside the box.

Tranmere then suffered their own injury blow, losing key midfielder Kieron Morris after a strong challenge from Matty Platt.

The Bristow and Josh Hawkes combo down their left continued to be a lively outlet but chances at either end remained at a premium.

And then, two minutes before the break, City struck with their first effort on target.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Andy Cook celebrates his 19th goal of the season Andy Cook celebrates his 19th goal of the season (Image: Thomas Gadd)

Richie Smallwood picked out Liam Ridehalgh well forward, his cross popped up invitingly and Walker was on it straight away to lash a deflected drive past Mateusz Hewelt.

It came slightly against the run of play but the hosts immediately pushed for another and Tranmere’s Polish keeper needed two grabs at Smallwood’s well-struck drive.

City needed no reminding that being one up at the break was a dangerous scoreline. But it was a bonus given they had not tested the Tranmere goal until Walker’s breakthrough.

The Bantams came back out on the front foot chasing that second goal that has been their weakness at Valley Parade.

They nearly got it on 57 minutes from Smallwood’s in-swinging set-piece. Sam Stubbs got the flick-on towards goal and fellow centre half Matty Platt ran it into the grateful grasp of Hewelt in front the line.

Stubbs then returned to defensive duties to block Regan Hendry’s drive before Logan Chalmers rolled the rebound harmlessly wide.

There was more concern when Platt gave away a cheap foul. Hendry’s free-kick was headed back to him by Tom Davies and the midfielder’s cross-shot whistled past the far post.

Sloppiness was creeping into City’s play and there were some frayed nerves in the crowd at the prospect of seeing more home points tossed away.

Sub Joel Mumbongo had brought more power to the Tranmere attack and there were moans when City looked to play keep ball along the back four and almost gifted him possession outside their penalty area.

The nerves disappeared with the second goal on 74 minutes as Cook’s looping header from Adam Clayton’s corner went in almost in slow motion.

Hewelt appeared to leave it, thinking the ball was going over the bar, before watching in horror as it dropped in under the bar.

It was Cook's 19th goal of the season, seventh against former clubs and third past Tranmere. Defences are getting sick of the sight of him again.

It made for a comfy ending for a change as Tranmere failed to muster a single effort directly at goal or a corner.