IT WAS a good way for Kevin McDonald to bow out of his caretaker stint.

And an excellent time for Tyler Smith to remind the doubters that there are other scorers in the City ranks not called Cook.

As McDonald steps back into full-time playing duties, the Scot at least passed on a winning team – and one that have qualified for the EFL Trophy knock-out stages with a game to spare.

Mark Trueman will also pick up a side that includes a confident Smith ending the frustration of his early months at Valley Parade in some style.

All right it was “only” Manchester City under-21s in front of a meagre Trophy crowd but the Bantams will be hoping his hat-trick provides the kick-start for another striker to weigh in with their fair share.

Andy Cook was given the night off – as he had been for City’s group opener at Grimsby three weeks earlier.

McDonald chose not to pick himself but there were still 10 charges to last weekend’s starting line-up as those on the fringes were given another Trophy outing to catch the eye.

There weren’t many watching in the stands on a damp and miserable night but it’s the interested spectators from afar that the players on duty would have been just as keen to impress.

Whoever takes the City hot-seat full-time, and whenever that may be, will inherit a substantial squad.

Skipper Richie Smallwood was the only Sutton starter to remain – and was partnered by teenager Freddy Jeffreys, who was handed his senior full debut after coming off the bench in the win at Blundell Park.

Another intriguing name on McDonald’s team sheet was Jon Tomkinson, finally making his first start since arriving on loan from Norwich two months ago.

The centre half had only one previous sub outing under his belt, although he had seen some recent action with two friendly appearances for the USA Olympic training squad in Phoenix.

The young visitors included 16-year-old Bradford lad Matty Henderson-Hall, who used to go to St Francis Primary School at Bolton Junction.

Harry Chapman was starting for the first time since his hamstring injury at Swindon in April. He was almost in from a quick free-kick but a defender blocked his flick over keeper George Murray-Jones.

City, though, went in front after 15 minutes as Rayhaan Tulloch slid a pass through the white shirts for Smith to finish in the bottom corner for his second goal for the club.

Man City’s young lads knocked the ball about well, as you’d expect, and conjured a chance for Jacob Wright who fired just past the far post.

The visitors looked very good technically and enjoyed plenty of the ball. But City were content to sit back and not try to press too early – their undoing against a similar style at MK Dons the week before.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Freddy Jeffreys played just over an hour in his first startFreddy Jeffreys played just over an hour in his first start (Image: Thomas Gadd)

Chapman, who was playing in the number 10 role behind Smith, had another effort charged down after Smallwood’s free-kick was cleared to the edge of the box.

But City – and Smith – doubled their tally on 36 minutes. Again the set-up pass was spot on as Daniel Oyegoke sent the striker scurrying away.

His shot was struck well enough but straight at Murray-Jones, who allowed it to slither under his body in the wet conditions for a second goal.

Smith nearly had his hat-trick when he took Smallwood’s pass and wriggled between two defenders but Murray-Jones did just enough to turn the ball behind.

But the escape was only temporary as the keeper completely missed Chapman’s corner and Smith was lurking at the far post to stab home his third.

The audience of 1,750 hardy souls, barring the 83 friends and family from the other side of the Pennines, had been rewarded for trekking out on a foul night.

Chapman made way at the break for Bobby Pointon as he is gradually brought up to speed after his lengthy lay-off. The winger had shown some bright moments from his run-out.

Man City pushed for some kind of response but Emile Heskey’s son Jaden found his route to the near post blocked off by Ciaran Kelly.

Jeffreys had made a decent impression and received generous applause when he made way for Adam Wilson just after the hour.

Man City did show how to play out from the back, cutting through City’s lines as the ball was whisked from one end to the other where Farid Alfa-Ruprecht hit the outside frame of the goal.

The winger from Hamburg’s academy then threatened again but Doyle pushed away his cross-shot.

Play was halted for a few minutes because of an incident behind the Man City dug-out which saw stewards called over. There was a warning soon after on the PA system that racist abuse would not be tolerated.

When the game did resume, the visitors continued their attempts to get one back as Tomas Galvez rustled the side-netting.

A late treble sub included Smith’s departure to a standing ovation before Lewis Richards fizzed one final effort wide.

CITY: Doyle, Oyegoke, Tomkinson, Kelly (Taylor 84min), Richards, Smallwood (Gilliead 84min), Jeffreys (Wilson 64min), Tulloch, Afoka, Chapman (Pointon 46min), Smith (Oduor 84min). Subs (not used): Halliday, Lewis.

MAN CITY: Murray-Jones, Galvez, Alleyne, Simpson-Pusey, Samuel, Wright (Susoho 62min), Taylor (Alfa-Ruprecht 36min), Heskey, Hamilton (Adam 69min), Henderson-Hall, Dickson. Subs (not used): Carrington, Grant, Warhurst, Oboavwoduo.