ALEX Gilliead, like City, had to rely on catch-up for the best bits from their live TV date.

The rarely-spotted Bantams scorer saves up his goals for Grimsby’s visits to Valley Parade.

And he didn’t disappoint with a peach of a finish just when his team needed it most to salvage something from an uncomfortable afternoon.

His third goal in two years - and second in successive home games against the Mariners - rescued a point that City’s second half just about deserved.

Only Gilliead couldn’t head straight home to relive his first TV goal because he’d not bothered recording it on Sky.

“I thought I might only get on for 20 minutes,” he grimaced after texting his missus Meghan to confirm that she hadn’t either. “I’m gutted and will have to find it somehow.”

Grimsby had seen this episode before; they had led twice on their last visit in April and still come away empty-handed.

At least, Paul Hurst’s side took a point - but the stigma of a 25-year wait for a win over the Bantams goes on. That’s now 19 games and counting.

But once the buzz of the late fightback has faded, City will look back on how they went so far off script in the first place.

And again, the formation question rears its head - and how much better the team looked when reverting to the 4-2-3-1 set-up that served them so well last season.

This time there was a post-match caveat when Hughes was asked about moving away from the system of three centre halves he has steadfastly stuck to since day one of pre-season.

“It’s food for thought,” he admitted after deciding that a “more radical” decision needed to be made following City’s awful first half.

“We needed to do something. I could see what the issue was, so it was quite simple at half-time to change it around.

“We just needed to get on the front foot. They understood what they needed to do better.

“The fundamentals always remain the same but it’s about putting them into place. It doesn’t matter what formation you play.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: No guessing what Mark Hughes thought of the first halfNo guessing what Mark Hughes thought of the first half (Image: Thomas Gadd.)

City, having surrendered so much territorial advantage to their free-passing visitors up to the break, at last got a grip on proceedings.

They finally had a bit of purpose and looked a team with a plan, justifying Gilliead’s late intervention.

It had not looked that way when the televised contest had kicked off in the baking lunchtime heat.

With Tyler Smith’s groin strain adding to the attacking problems, Hughes handed Matt Derbyshire a first start of the season.

Fifteen years earlier, in his first meeting with the Mariners, Derbyshire had scored twice in the League Cup for Blackburn.

In April, he had come off the bench to set up Andy Cook’s late comeback winner.

But there was no such joy at the third time of asking. The veteran striker was snuffed out by Grimsby’s centre halves - an unfortunate victim of City’s insistence on pumping high hopeful balls in his direction.

He has never been a target man and was given nothing to feed off that he could do anything with.

Jamie Walker and Bobby Pointon fared little better either side of him.

Walker tried a couple of efforts without success while Pointon, desperate to justify the first start for the club he loves, was sold short by the lack of structure around him.

Instead, it was Grimsby who camped in City’s half, enjoying plenty of the ball and happy to commit numbers forward.

They knocked the ball about well and controlled the tempo without really going anywhere. Abo Eisa, for all the hype following his four-goal first month, had no impact against his former employers.

For 42 minutes, the only winner looked to be the cloying heat that touched 34 degrees centigrade according to Sky’s pitch-side gauge.

But then Grimsby struck just before Hughes had the chance to rip into his off-colour team.

Arthur Gnahoua fed Toby Mullarkey to swing a cross to the far post where Danny Rose slipped between Matty Platt and Ciaran Kelly to plant his header.

Unbeaten in their previous four league outings, the end of their City jinx surely beckoned.

The home boos that followed as the half-time whistle blew were predictable - and hard to argue with.

Paint peeled in the home dressing room. Hughes shook things up to introduce Gilliead and Rayhaan Tulloch - and restored the system that had been the bedrock of his City reign.

There was instantly a better balance about their play and the tempo naturally lifted.

Pointon, particularly, began to shine in a more natural right-sided role with Brad Halliday in support.

Hughes had talked beforehand of ensuring the talented teen swam and not sank in League Two’s deep seas.

Having been effectively thrown overboard for the first 45 minutes, Pointon found his water wings.

The Valley Parade audience roared its approval for the former Kop season-ticket holder now getting his chance to live the dream.

There is a refreshing positivity about Pointon’s play. Everything he does is with an intention of going forward and making something happen in attack.

You hope that won’t be knocked out of him over time when the inevitable obstacles block his path.

Judging by the way he bounced back so well from such a frustrating first half, his character seems up to the challenge.

Gilliead’s familiar partnership with Richie Smallwood added more mobility than that offered when Hughes had paired the skipper alongside Kevin McDonald.

The substitute kept City on the move in search of an equaliser, although chances remained at a premium.

Pointon whacked a couple of efforts off course, indicating that he was prepared to have a go at least, and Halliday volleyed with venom over the bar.

But the only save of the second half came from Harry Lewis to deny Gnahoua on a Grimsby counter.

Yet with Tulloch and Pointon pressing on both flanks, hope lingered.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Ex-Bantam Abo Eisa goes down in a heap under Brad HallidayEx-Bantam Abo Eisa goes down in a heap under Brad Halliday (Image: Thomas Gadd)

It took 88 minutes but City’s one and only shot on target produced only their fifth league goal.

Gilliead fed the ball to Pointon and then received the return pass on the edge of the box.

There was still work to do but quick feet brought the ball into position and a precise finish dispatched it in the one stop where keeper Jake Eastwood had no chance.

The irony of Gilliead bursting Grimsby’s bubble won’t have been lost on Hurst, who had previously signed the player twice for Shrewsbury and Scunthorpe.

His opposite number had eventually got it right with the substitutes - and, significantly, the formation change.

Hughes has plenty to chew over before Harrogate’s visit next weekend. Valley Parade will not put up with a repeat of that first half.