IT WAS inevitable who would ensure the Bantams party went with a swing.

Just under 4,000 guests had packed in to celebrate a year as City boss for Mark Hughes.

And they weren’t left disappointed thanks to the man who has held centre stage pretty much all season.

Andy Cook was so wrapped up by the bedlam after his winning goal that he wanted to dive in and join them.

Jamie Walker picked up the amber flare thrown into the goal mouth and held it aloft like he was in the midst of a European pyro party.

The result lived up to the hype for City’s biggest travelling army since the Phil Parkinson reunion at Bolton in 2016. Away days don’t feel any better.

At the end of it, the Bantams bizarrely remained in eighth spot on the cusp of the play-off places as they have been for the past month.

But the gaps are shrinking after three of those above them were beaten.

Stevenage wobbled again with a surprise home defeat against Tranmere.

Mansfield, fresh from thumping four at Carlisle, leaked five at home to Salford.

And Barrow proved Valley Parade was no fluke by doing City a favour this time and upsetting Stockport.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Andy Cook gets behind keeper Jonathan Mitchell to scoreAndy Cook gets behind keeper Jonathan Mitchell to score (Image: Thomas Gadd.)

A seven-point spread now separates Hughes’ men from second spot - having still played fewer games than all except Stevenage.

Barrow could be brushed off as a nasty blip as City bounced back to make it three wins in four with a controlled display in an occasionally feisty Yorkshire derby.

Doncaster were shut down to just two efforts on target. City, having failed to register even one the week before, created all the best opportunities.

There was more tempo to their play, an urgency about the passing, an edge going forward that had been so noticeably lacking last time out.

The crossing took a while to match the build-up but it got there in the end - with Adam Clayton delivering a corner into the perfect spot for Cook to take advantage of the panic wreaked by Sam Stubbs’ presence to nod goal number 20 of his prolific campaign.

He could head off to Wembley with Alex Gilliead to support their beloved Toon in the League Cup final in the knowledge of another job very well done.

Cook had been egged on to celebrate in the same style as his hero Alan Shearer if he scored.

But he was so caught up in the moment, the big man’s only thought was trying to resist the overwhelming temptation of leaping the hoardings to mingle with the hordes going bonkers in the away stand.

The sheer ecstasy was a sight to see - and conjures up the mouth-watering prospect of similar scenes being recreated between now and May if all goes to plan.

An eighth away win - equal with Leyton Orient and Northampton as the most in the division - was fully justified in the same way that their lethargic efforts the week before had earned nothing at Valley Parade.

This was exactly the response required to restore faith among the fans - many of whom had no doubt let them know exactly what they thought the previous weekend.

Don’t get too high or low is the mantra. You try telling that to the Bantam battalion behind the goal as they leapt around after Cook became the first player at the club to reach 20 in a season since Nahki Wells a decade ago.

And that campaign didn’t end up too badly …

But it wasn’t just about Cook, however he continues to dominate the headlines.

There were so many good sub-plots and storylines to this happy City tale.

Clayton had claimed he had nothing to prove on his quick return to the club where he played 35 times in a year’s stay before his move across Yorkshire late in the January window.

Try telling that to home boss Danny Schofield, who had decided that the midfield warrior didn’t suit his style of play.

Clayton strode around the middle of the park like he owned the place as he brushed off the jeers and cat calls that accompanied his involvement.

Referee Sam Purkiss let a few too many “free-for-all” challenges go but that too failed to knock him out of his stride.

The beaming smile as he interrupted Cook’s post-match media duties showed how much Clayton had enjoyed his winning stroll down memory lane.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Emmanuel Osadebe made his comeback near the endEmmanuel Osadebe made his comeback near the end (Image: Thomas Gadd)

And then there was Emmanuel Osadebe, whose return in this particular game was almost written in the stars.

“It was meant to be” said his manager, having stressed that he did not throw him at the end just for the feelgood factor.

But it was an emotional comeback for a player whose season had been so cruelly snatched away just a few minutes into opening day.

All those hours spent in the gym, the hard yards of rehab from a double leg break, suddenly drifted away as Osadebe ran on to the field to the second loudest roar of the day.

He got six minutes tops, with the added time tacked on, but it clearly felt the world to a character whose cheery disposition has remained such a tonic around the squad.

Now, finally, we will get to see the talent too.

City had to keep their discipline in the hot-headed atmosphere after Purkiss flashed yellow cards at Walker and Clayton in the opening exchanges.

Both did so admirably, Walker showing he had clearly learned the lesson from Wimbledon when his rush-of-blood had left his depleted team-mates to dig him out the mire.

The Scot had City’s best moments of a frenetic first half, forcing a good save from Jonathan Mitchell early on and drifting another effort across the face of goal.

Doncaster got little change from a solid Bantam backline where the outstanding Stubbs inadvertently offered the only bit of discomfort with a flick off a home free-kick that Harry Lewis had to tip around his post.

City found an edge to their game after the break to raise the threat level.

Hughes had surprised many by sticking with the same formation and just replacing the crocked Abo Eisa with Dara Costelloe.

The young Irishman had underwhelmed in his early appearances but impressed his boss in the private friendly at Everton during the week.

He took his chance by stretching the Donny defence and providing the pace that City’s attack have lacked.

Richie Smallwood was moved to the left side where he grew into a leading figure in the second half. Twice he came close to getting on the scoresheet, a cheeky chip being cleared off the line by Tom Anderson.

But Cook, who else, had done enough to ensure the perfect day-out for everyone of a claret-and-amber leaning. Now on to Gillingham …