THE West Yorkshire jeers ringing in his ears, Jonny Williams was removed from the firing line with the game effectively up.

Moments earlier Andy Cook had thudded a free-kick through an obliging Gillingham wall to double the City advantage.

The withdrawal of “nearly signing” Williams just added to the gleeful mood of the “Jingle Bell-ing” 370 die-hards who had made the trek from one corner of the country to another.

The irony of Alex Pattison’s appearance from the City bench soon after was not lost on them either. Everyone connected with Valley Parade is convinced they got the better hand in the summer transfer shenanigans.

Revenge, they say, is a dish best served cold. Kent was rather mild for the time of year and windy – ideal conditions, nonetheless, to cavort on that “temporary” open terrace which remains a monument to a club with sizeable ambitions but yet to follow them through.

City’s own credentials, meanwhile, continue to grow.

The season that the more panicky types had already consigned to the dustbin is coming alive with each promising outcome.

The gap to the play-off places was nine points after City’s TV pain at Notts County. A month on and it’s down to three.

What a turnaround it has been since Graham Alexander’s half-time epiphany at Meadow Lane.

And we can lose the “yeah but” caveat about a winning run now stretching to an impressive five games in all competitions.

The previous four victories had carried an asterisk in some eyes regarding the quality of the opposition – two under-21 teams in the Bristol Street Motors Trophy and a hopeless Forest Green in the league.

Accrington were seventh at the time City recorded their first win since the change of boss. But the others could have read like the type of journeyman padding that fill out a boxer’s unbeaten record.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Andy Cook has scored seven goals in four games against GillinghamAndy Cook has scored seven goals in four games against Gillingham (Image: Thomas Gadd)

Not anymore. Gillingham were very much a “live” foe, especially in their own backyard. Success for any team travelling to the “Garden of England” is earned with sweat and toil.

There was plenty of that on display from those in black in a game that may have lacked quality but was always an absorbing watch.

We were told that Stephen Clemence is revamping the way Gillingham play since his arrival five days before Alexander walked through the doors at Valley Parade.

But, for the most part, there was still the directness of the Neil Harris era about their approach – which foundered on a stout Bantams backline.

Jon Tomkinson, the most patient man in BD8, had finally got his first league start to replace the suspended Ash Taylor.

After an eye-catching outing against Liverpool’s under-21s, this was a proper test for the Norwich Texan and he rose to the challenge in composed fashion.

He added the ingredient of pace to the back three and looked confident in possession amid the hurly-burly around him.

On this evidence, it will be a very interesting call what happens with him come January.

City’s running stats will have clocked up big numbers, none higher than wing-backs Lewis Richards and Brad Halliday who bombed up and down from first minute to last.

Halliday should have got the Bantams off to a flier but screwed a golden chance across goal from their first attack.

That looked a costly miss when Macauley Bonne got across his marker to flick Conor Mahoney’s corner inside the near post.

But Harry Lewis strangled the home celebrations with a remarkable left-hand grab before the ball could cross the line.

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It was the only save City’s keeper had to make all afternoon but a huge, momentum-changing one. For the rest, Lewis handled and controlled his area with the confident air of a man who has forgotten what it’s like to concede.

That scare negotiated, the visitors then pounced with another example of the front-foot approach, hunting in packs, that Alexander keeps ramming home.

It started from nothing; a Gillingham free-kick just outside their own box.

The home side opted to play it short - and suddenly City sensed blood.

Tyler Smith led the charge to close down one defender and then keeper Jake Turner, who was hurried into an awkward clearance to left back Scott Malone.

There was more pace on the pass than the defender expected and his touch back for teammate Conor Masterson was under-hit.

Alex Gilliead made sure it never got there and the chance was on.

Brad Halliday took his pass on the overlap, cut the ball back and Jamie Walker did the rest from beside the penalty spot.

The locals, at that point, dug out the stat that Gillingham had not rescued a single point from a losing position this season.

But Alexander warned his team at half-time to anticipate the backlash. Don’t be giving away cheap free-kicks in dangerous positions were the final words before they emerged back out.

A flurry of fouls and yellow cards followed as City threatened to undo their good work by offering up set-piece opportunities.

But having unnecessarily set themselves that defensive examination, they came through with flying colours.

Mahoney’s delivery was spot on more often than not but City dealt with every ball that came in, barring one Max Ehmer header from a corner that cleared the bar.

They then got the cushion of a second goal when Ehmer went through the back of Cook five yards outside the Gillingham penalty area.

As Cook lined up to take it himself, it didn’t need Einstein to work out his intentions.

But the Gillingham wall bizarrely opted to jump as the striker thundered a shot low and hard through the gap and under the body of the diving Turner.

Cook loves playing against the Gills. That’s now seven goals in their last four meetings – three in two last season with City plus a hat-trick in a Walsall win at Priestfield in 2019.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: City have now won five in a row under Graham AlexanderCity have now won five in a row under Graham Alexander (Image: Thomas Gadd)

The number nine’s latest strike took him to double figures and put the lid on back-to-back away wins with half an hour left on the clock.

The height of Oli Hawkins kept City honest but Gillingham have struggled for goals all season and looked spent as an attacking threat.

Apart from one late penalty shout when Mahoney went tumbling under Richie Smallwood, there was nothing to disrupt the progress to another three points.

Three straight wins represents City’s best league form of the season since early March – a run that included the last Gillingham visit.

That also featured a win at Doncaster, the final pre-Christmas opponents on Friday. City can make that short trip in the best of festive spirits.