AT THE beginning of last week, uber-positive City fans could have got odds of 1,000/1 on their team still winning promotion.

That’s the betting territory usually reserved for fresh sightings of Elvis or little green men.

By Friday, the bookies had slashed the price to a more respectable 66s – still very much in the long-shot category in racing terms but at least the horse had all four legs.

Now you can halve that again as the outsider heads into the home straight hanging on at the back of the pack.

The team that have never been in the top seven all season are still not out of the hunt.

Even if City won their last two, they would need favours from elsewhere.

If two out of Tuesday night’s opponents Barrow, Crawley and in-form Doncaster win again, that’s the Bantams out the race whatever their own outcome.

Given that Donny have now racked up nine on the bounce, you can’t see them slipping up at both Colchester and Gillingham.

Equally, Crawley are at home to a Grimsby side now safe and with absolutely nothing to play for. Barrow, at least, could have their work cut out with a last-day visit from promoted Mansfield.

But the fact that City are still in the picture going into the final week takes some believing when you wind the clock back a few weeks.

Who would have thought after the horrors of Harrogate that we’d be even entertaining this conversation?

At that stage, it was hard to see where the next goal, let alone point, was coming from.

But four wins and a draw later and faith and a little bit of hope has been restored; the cracks between team and fanbase beginning to heal as City rediscover some backbone and fighting spirit.

From a club business point of view, season-ticket sales that have topped 12,000 should anticipate another boost in the last few days of the “early-bird” offer.

But longer-term thinking can wait for now. It’s all about the present and chasing the most unlikely of play-off invitations.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Two-goal Jamie Walker gets a celebration hug from Brad HallidayTwo-goal Jamie Walker gets a celebration hug from Brad Halliday (Image: Thomas Gadd)

Sane-minded supporters will say that it still won’t happen. There are too many variables for everything to align in City’s favour.

But then how do you logically explain a result like the one they pocketed from a pulsating encounter in the Black Country?

Who could possibly have seen that coming when Walsall stormed into an early two-goal lead on the back of some kamikaze City defending?

It had the makings of a very long and painful afternoon as the men in off white stood like statues allowing a long kick from the keeper to sail all the way through to an almost apologetic looping header from Walsall striker Mo Faal into the unguarded net.

The in-game promotion odds must have lurched back into the loony zone at that moment.

And yet City somehow found a way – and then hung on tenaciously amid a late pounding after Jamie Walker’s needless dismissal left them a man short.

Walker’s red card for two soft yellows made the task a lot harder but, led by the magnificent Richie Smallwood, the visitors dug in and survived – with a little bit of assistance from an obliging goal frame.

The players looked shattered as they took the applause from a bouncing away end at the final whistle. They had left everything out there.

Another quick turnaround demands that energy levels are instantly replenished for Barrow away take three.

But it’s easier to deal with any physical and mental fatigue when there is still a target to aim for, however remote that might seem.

The Cumbrians are in awful form – blowing a two-goal cushion to lose at Doncaster stretched their winless run to five games. City have clawed back 12 points on them in that time.

You don’t need to go all Ted Lasso to fancy the chances of further eating into that advantage come Tuesday night.

The evidence from City’s latest road trip should encourage us all to expect the unexpected.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: City looked down and out when Mo Faal scored Walsall's secondCity looked down and out when Mo Faal scored Walsall's second (Image: Thomas Gadd)

The win at Walsall had just about everything – even a steward being marched out the ground for allegedly scrapping with a home fan!

The Saddlers had begun the game in pole position to seize on any slips from those currently occupying play-off places.

Just one point off the top seven, boss Mat Sadler had called for a fast start and certainly got that with two goals in 16 minutes.

Tyreik Wright was tentative with a shot on the edge of the home box and Walsall suddenly broke away, Isaac Hutchinson scooting 60 yards before supplying Ryan Stirk to finish.

Things then bordered on the farcical as everyone watched Jackson Smith’s big boot up field, everyone that is except Faal who nipped in between Daniel Oyegoke and Sam Walker to nod number two.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The top of League Two as it stands going into the final week of the seasonThe top of League Two as it stands going into the final week of the season (Image: Web)

It looked like March revisited for a fuming Graham Alexander but City hit back within minutes.

You’d think Walsall fans would have learned their lesson not to annoy Andy Cook.

But the constant boos fuelled their former striker to haunt them once more.

His angled header to get City on the board was Cook’s fourth goal in the last five meetings with the Saddlers. Incredibly, it was also the 18th time he had scored against a former employer.

Cook then turned provider for the equaliser, steering Smallwood’s free-kick across goal for Walker to convert.

The Scot struck again after the break to complete the comeback.

Bobby Pointon cleverly got to the line to pick out Cook’s head. His effort came off a defender and Walker was on hand to lash in the rebound.

For the second week running, those pesky Bantams had turned an early away deficit into a lead. But there was plenty more drama to come.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Referee Adam Herczeg brandishes the red card at Jamie WalkerReferee Adam Herczeg brandishes the red card at Jamie Walker (Image: Thomas Gadd)

Walker was petulantly booked for delaying keeper Smith from taking a free-kick; a silly act that was then compounded when his pull on Ross Tierney earned him a second yellow.

That left City to negotiate the final quarter of relentless home pressure with a numerical disadvantage.

Sam Walker pulled off a couple of huge saves and thanked his lucky stars for the sturdy frame of the goal that somehow denied Tom Knowles.

With Smallwood calling the shots like an army sergeant major in a bunker under heavy fire, City dug in deep and held on amid the scares.

A fourth win in five visits since both sides came crashing down from League One together in 2019.

And they can still cling to the dream for a few more days. Don’t go to bed just yet.