HARRY Lewis ran to the wall of claret and amber to join in the goal celebrations.

Jamie Walker got a rock-star reception from City’s army of fans when his number was called for a substitution.

Andy Cook was spotted leaving Rochdale’s ground with a tribute flag of himself draped round his shoulders.

There is something special in the air.

Rochdale away has generally been a good fixture for the Bantams. It’s the closest on the League Two map for starters and City tend to come home with the spoils.

They are now unbeaten in 10 trips since the last defeat in March 2009.

On that occasion, a 3-0 loss was the trigger for a dramatic spiral that would see Stuart McCall’s men crash without trace from the promotion picture.

The same winning margin this time around felt like a significant hurdle cleared in the sprint for the line. Something is brewing.

Again, the results around City were favourable.

Stevenage may have won but Carlisle and Northampton drew and Stockport, despite a late equaliser at Gillingham, also dropped points. Mansfield also drew while Salford slipped up surprisingly at home to lowly Colchester.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Richie Smallwood celebrates setting up another goalRichie Smallwood celebrates setting up another goal (Image: Thomas Gadd)

Without moving from sixth, City have closed the gap on the competition once again.

They’ve also got a bit of leeway behind them - with a five-point cushion in the play-offs.

Not that they are looking in the rear-view mirror, which Mark Hughes was keen to stress afterwards.

It remains a case of full steam ahead as City continue to be the hunter not the hunted.

In a way, the inertia in terms of league position, might do them a favour. It keeps everyone hungry knowing that there can be no slips if they are to reel in the targets that are now so tantalisingly close.

Make no mistake, the others are well aware they are being stalked.

This performance had the swagger of a team who know they are heading the right direction. There was an inevitability about the result.

A second three-goal salvo in the week has also topped up the goal difference - which could become a deal-breaker given the fact there is barely a coat of paint between a gaggle of promotion contenders right now.

City are currently inferior to Carlisle and Stockport, the two teams locked with them on 71 points, but better than Northampton and Stevenage.

As one Twitter wag put it, we’re all going to turn into Carol Vorderman by the end of the season with so many mathematical ins and outs!

Given the regular renditions of “we’re on our way” booming from the packed away side of the ground, there is no doubt among the supporters that the sums will eventually add up.

It seems that Hughes is finding the right formula to solve a puzzle that has stumped many before him.

There is still plenty to go, starting with that midweek hike to Swindon, but City have the bit between their teeth.

In the ever-changing form table, only Stockport and Leyton Orient have picked up as many points in the past five games.

This team have forgotten how to lose - and, crucially at this pivotal stage, remembered how to win after that recent flurry of draws.

They are also sharing the goals around with three more on the scoresheet here and Cook not among them.

Of the nine City have netted in the last four games, League Two's top gun has scored two. The slack is being picked up at long last.

The latest tally even included a first from a City defender for 350 days as Sam Stubbs set the ball rolling.

“We got there in the end!” smiled the centre half. “It was nice for one of us to do it.

"Andy can't score every week. He's done so well for us, so it was probably a bit of a relief.”

The back four finally breaking their duck will also silence the banter in the dressing room. Stubbs admitted there’s been a fair bit flying about.

"Yeah - all from Cooky! No, it's been from everywhere, the fans, the staff, it's all over.

"It's not something we've carried too strongly, I don't think we've had to because of Cooky's goals.

"It was probably just important one of us got on the end of it and when Dickie (Richie Smallwood) is putting balls in like that it's hard not to score.”

Set-pieces have been a bugbear through the season but there was no knocking the quality of Smallwood’s delivery, the captain showing once again why he is such a key presence in City’s current position.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Sam Stubbs broke the defensive duck with the first goalSam Stubbs broke the defensive duck with the first goal (Image: Thomas Gadd)

His free-kick placement was also spot on for the second goal that killed off any ambitions Rochdale harboured of a fightback.

The division’s bottom side had a brief spell before half-time when Ian Henderson and Abraham Odoh were both played in.

But Hughes instructed his side to drop a little deeper at the break which cut out the gaps the hosts tried to exploit on the break and left them to launch hit-and-hope diagonals.

Rochdale always wobbled defending dead-ball situations and Richard O’Donnell needed Henderson to come to his rescue and kick Jamie Walker’s header off the line.

But the former Bantams stopper was well beaten when home captain Ethan Ebanks-Landell inadvertently diverted Smallwood’s free-kick into the top corner.

If Rochdale thought their luck was out, that was confirmed by the manner of City’s third goal.

Jimmy Keohane slid in to try and block Scott Banks, whose shot spun up off the prone left back and looped over the helpless O’Donnell into the net.

By this time, Valley Parade on tour was partying in earnest as the 3,158 away fans - who made up well over half the total crowd - created a carnival atmosphere.

Those “undercover” Bantams in the main stand weren’t left out either as they ran to the front to high-five Hughes after the whistle had blown.

It will have felt extra special for chief executive Ryan Sparks and the trusty band of City employees who had battled through the rain the previous day to trek across the Pennines to Spotland in aid of Stephen Darby’s MND charity.

They had gone the extra mile, quite literally, for their club - and the team had then proved that they are also more than capable of walking the walk.