GROUNDHOG Day arrived 24 hours late at Valley Parade.

February 2 may be its traditional date but yesterday felt like something we had sat through and endured on too many occasions.

A bored crowd witnessing another underachieving display as the slump goes on. Samey and predictable and no way through an opponent who needed to display little ambition to get what they came for.

Only four teams have scored less than the Bantams – and Sutton, one of those expected to drop, are just a goal behind.

City have scored once from open play in the last seven hours of trying – Brad Halliday following up the rebound to equalise against Salford.

No disrespect intended, but the fact that Halliday is currently their top scorer since the last league win with two of the eight post-Christmas goals highlights a growing issue.

Graham Alexander made a point by dropping Andy Cook to the bench – the first time their top marksman hadn’t started a league game since coming back from injury in September.

With just one goal since his Donny double on December 22, the big man has cut an increasingly frustrated figure, culminating in that head-loss red card in midweek.

Alexander shunted Jake Young into the middle and he again showed some bright touches but too often found himself crowded out by Wimbledon’s impressive central pairing of Lee Brown and debutant Kofi Balmer.

There were enough attacking moments to create something of note, particularly in the first half, but former City loanee Alex Bass was never stretched into doing anything remarkable to protect his clean sheet.

City may have tried to play a bit more football on a pudding of a pitch just had they done against Doncaster in midweek. But without that end product, it all felt a bit “fur coat and no knickers” once more.

Alexander tried to strike a positive note amongst the angst and general apathy afterwards.

“I think we’ve been too direct at certain times and not given ourselves a chance to build our play,” he said. “I feel we’ve got that balance much better in the last two games.

“If we score one of those opportunities, we’ve got two 1-0 wins and you see we’re making that turn. But I’m confident these players can do that.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Graham Alexander watching the game from the standGraham Alexander watching the game from the stand (Image: Thomas Gadd)

“We’re getting in the positions, it’s just that final connection, final decision and that bit of composure needed.

“We’re just going through a patch that a lot of teams do from time to time.”

A first appearance in the EFL Trophy semi-finals in a couple of weeks offers a welcome escape. That Wycombe game looks huge for maintaining interest in a campaign that is otherwise dribbling away.

But it is only glossing over the ongoing shortcomings in the league.

Five points from the last 24 on offer has seen their play-off ambitions, very much on as we all swaggered away from Doncaster’s Eco-Power Stadium on December 22, effectively disappear over the hill in the space of six weeks.

Yes, the gap to seventh did actually go down to seven but does anybody realistically expect City to mount the type of run needed to even ask the question?

The upcoming fixture list featuring Wrexham away, MK Dons, Notts County and Barrow is as daunting as it gets right now. Maintaining that distance, let alone chipping away at it, presents some task for a team that cannot buy a league win.

Cook’s absence showed that no place is set in stone, although Richie Smallwood’s instant recall from a dreadful day at Swindon did not sit well with many fans. An ironic cheer again went up when the fourth official displayed his number on the hour.

READ MORE: Why Harry Chapman was subbed at half-time

The skipper was far from alone in suffering a shocker in the south-west and the response defensively to the two soft concessions the week before has been encouraging.

Sam Walker needed to make only one routine save from a header to bank his first shut-out with the club as those in front stayed strong on a surface where you could take no liberties and required defensive discipline and full concentration.

Ciaran Kelly set the tone with a thundering tackle on Wimbledon captain Armani Little on the halfway line. That drew a loud cheer – one of the few incidents that did.

The Irishman had one of City’s better scoring opportunities from a half-cleared corner. But his thundering blast was well blocked in front of goal by Little, amid half-hearted shouts for hand ball, and Jon Tomkinson clipped over the bar in the follow-up.

Lewis Richards was always a willing runner on City’s left flank and Harry Chapman took the game to the visitors for a while.

Bass saved from Alex Gilliead, playing further forward as part of the front three, and Chapman, who also whistled a free-kick wide.

He did not appear for the second half as Alexander, once more watching events from the loftier view of the press box but this time out of choice, felt he was running out of steam.

There has been a constant call for local favourite Bobby Pointon to feature more while City are finding such thin pickings. He got the nod for the second half but, a couple of little bursts aside, could not find that elusive breakthrough.

It might have happened when new boy Calum Kavanagh, who had replaced Smallwood, burst aggressively down the right. He drilled a low cross into the box for Pointon – but Brown instantly shut the door before the youngster could rattle off a shot.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Calum Kavanagh came on from the bench for his City debutCalum Kavanagh came on from the bench for his City debut (Image: Thomas Gadd)

Cook had one sniff when he slipped his marker near the post but the ball ran agonisingly away from goal as he tried to shift it out of his feet.

Wimbledon felt they should have had a penalty when Omar Bugiel fell in a bundle with Matty Platt from a corner.

The Lebanon international took another tumble in the box under pressure from Tomkinson – but got a yellow card for simulation for his troubles.

Bugiel did spend a fair amount of time on the floor but the suggestion that his actions in any way justified the alleged racist abuse he received from someone in the Midland Road stand is repulsive.

Hopefully, if the claim is proved, the culprit will have the book thrown at him. It seems ridiculous to even been talking about this in 2024.

But that incident near the end, which saw referee Ross Joyce stop play for several minutes to consult both dug-outs, was a depressing footnote on another deflating day.