IT WAS all smiles at Valley Parade as City made sure they will still be on the Trophy trail heading into the new year.

The Bantams booked their place in the Bristol Street Motors last 16 with an ultimately comfortable win over Liverpool’s youngsters – who spent two-thirds of the night playing with 10 men.

It wasn’t just the result that will have warmed those who braved the cold in a crowd of just under 2,000.

There was also the welcome sight of Alex Pattison back out there in the thick of it – and Vadaine Oliver helping himself to a first goal in nearly a year.

Four wins in a row – and a place in the third round at the start of next month.

Graham Alexander had talked about how seriously he takes the competition – and showed that with the City team sheet.

After the mass changes of the group games, there were just three differences from the side that had won at Forest Green.

One of those was Jon Tomkinson’s appearance in the back three for only the second start of his loan from Norwich. Alongside him, Sam Stubbs returned after a couple of games on the bench.

With Harry Chapman suspended after two yellow cards, there was a place for Pattison among the subs – his first time in the squad for two months since his hamstring injury flared up again in Mark Hughes’ final game at Tranmere.

Liverpool were almost caught out by City’s opening corner as Clarke Oduor’s kick was swished at and missed by Lewis Koumas, forcing keeper Fabian Mrozek into a frantic block at the near post.

But the Bantams needed only seven minutes to get off the mark.

Tomkinson had time to pump an angled ball to the far post where Andy Cook nodded down for Tyler Smith to sweep home.

City were camped in Liverpool’s half but highly-rated Scottish winger Ben Doak tried to lift the siege with a burst from his own box.

Tomkinson blocked off his run but as the visitors shouted for the free-kick, Brad Halliday supplied Andy Cook with a chance which he drilled into the side-netting.

Mrozek then denied Cook with an excellent reflex save as the home pressure continued.

Ciaran Kelly and Halliday went in the book for halting Liverpool attempts to break and when they did get through, the big Irishman produced a well-timed sliding tackle to thwart Carter Pennington in the box.

Liverpool’s night got even harder just after the half hour when Lewis Koumas, son of former Wales midfielder Jason, was sent off for a clumsy foul on Kelly.

Referee Adam Herczeg had shown he was willing to flash the cards and had no hesitation in sending the striker packing.

Ironically, Liverpool shrugged off the numerical advantage to finish the half as the better team.

Doak carried the biggest threat for the Premier League youngsters and worked his way into a shooting position – only to shank into the empty Kop.

Doak, now playing down the middle as the solo striker, was at it again as he slipped in behind the City defence after Tomkinson lost out in a challenge on halfway.

But Lewis smothered at the speedy teenager’s feet before he could round the City number one and shoot into the empty net.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Vadaine Oliver fires home the rebound. Picture: Tom PearsonVadaine Oliver fires home the rebound. Picture: Tom Pearson (Image: Tom Pearson)

The warning signs were there while the lead remained a slender one.

City needed the cushion of a second goal – and got it just four minutes after the restart thanks to the main man.

Cook took Smith’s pass and muscled his way through the white and green shirts into the box before firing past Mrozek.

Liverpool’s mini-revival crushed, it was back to City dominating from that point.

Jamie Walker pounced on a short goal kick, winning the ball back in the Liverpool penalty area and setting up Cook again. This time his snap-shot was smartly blocked by Mrozek.

Alexander could now afford the luxury of making a triple sub just before the hour – and getting Oliver and Pattison some minutes in the tank.

And Oliver had only been on the pitch six minutes when he was on the scoresheet.

Richie Smallwood’s piledriver proved too hot for Mrozek to handle, the Pole palming it straight into the path of the big man to deposit into the empty net.

One check of the assistant for offside and then he was off celebrating a first City goal since New Year’s Day after an injury-ravaged time.

Smith was hungry for more and twice went close, also teeing up sub Bobby Pointon for a shot straight at the keeper.

As with the Barnsley game last time out in the Trophy, there was no easing off and the chances continued to clock up.

Oliver unleashed an overhead kick that flew narrowly over and then flicked on for an unmarked Smith, who sliced well wide with the goal at his mercy.

Oliver could have had more, planting one header over and then seeing another downward effort saved by Mrozek.

But City were not done and Smith grabbed his second in the six added minutes after being played in behind the wilting Liverpool defence.

That took his tally to six in his last three outings in the competition as the goals flow.