THE gaggle of Newport fans had their fun as they taunted about what was going on 250 miles away.

“Crawley, Crawley” was the chant from the corner of the Midland Road stand as the realisation set in that the play-off miracle was not going to pan out.

If Graham Alexander was not aware of the happenings elsewhere, as he claimed afterwards, then hearing the Welsh male voice choir’s tribute to the Sussex club must have come as a big, fat clue.

The City boss had vowed to stay focused on the job in hand and demanded the same of his players.

To their credit, they stuck to the script to complete this remarkable final chapter of a previously-underwhelming season in confident fashion.

But events elsewhere proved this score to be irrelevant in the bigger picture.

City could have doubled their four-goal tally and it would not have matter one iota with Crawley beating Grimsby to secure seventh spot.

Ultimately, one measly point and goal difference prevented the Bantams from making the cut-off.

Beating the Mariners themselves instead of scrambling that last-gasp point on Easter Monday would have done the trick.

But it would be a bit churlish to point the finger on a result that at the time was all about steadying the ship after the choppy waters of March.

City could not have done any more over the last month; the failings happened previously.

“We’ll be back again next year” was another old favourite given a rendition by the travelling supporters.

Yes, City should look forward to that after putting Newport to the sword for the second time this season.

Putting the disappointment aside, and let’s face it the Bantams weren’t once sat above the line from the first game to last, this sprint for the finish shows what can be achieved if they can produce these performances on a more consistent basis.

League Two 2024-2025 appears a much weaker animal minus the likes of Stockport, Wrexham and Mansfield. It’s the hope that kills you.

For now, it’s about another summer rebuild – although not once as radical as we had probably envisaged just over a month ago.

At that stage, most City fans were thinking they could pretty much all go with the season rapidly heading down a black hole.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Richie Smallwood, left, produced another big display in midfieldRichie Smallwood, left, produced another big display in midfield (Image: Thomas Gadd)

How much Alexander has been convinced by his team’s dramatic change in fortunes will be made clear when the retained list is made public in the coming days.

There are some tough conversations to be had behind the scenes first.

City have the whip hand with options in most of the deals for the out-of-contract players. It will be interesting to see what happens with those not up but seemingly not wanted.

The negotiation skills of the likes of new recruit David Sharpe will need to come to the fore to knock this squad into the kind of shape that Alexander wants for his first full crack at the league.

Off-seasons are rarely quiet in BD8.

City have at least put a smile back on the faces of the fans at the end of a season that still failed to meet its objective.

You could argue that a team with thought be the eighth highest budget in League Two finishing where they did was par for the course. But not repeating last year’s play-off push represents failure.

Stefan Rupp was back at Valley Parade to see the curtain come down and avoided any of the discomfort from his previous visit against Mansfield during the height of the March freefall.

But all eyes will be on the German now to see him keep to the promise of upping the backing he can provide from those deep pockets.

Meetings are understood to be scheduled with Gordon Gibb to discuss the stadium situation. The elusive owner has even agreed to a sit-down with the media to outline his plans in more detail, although that is likely to be later in the summer.

Actions, not words, are demanded from a hard-bitten Bantams public fed up with the prospect of a sixth season in the bottom tier.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Richie Smallwood and Newport captain Scott Bennett lay wreathsRichie Smallwood and Newport captain Scott Bennett lay wreaths (Image: Thomas Gadd)

It took the club that long last time to escape – the expectation will once again focus on finally getting it right once August comes around.

That belief rekindled by recent results and performances encouraged Valley Parade’s third highest home crowd to witness the final game.

Even given the odds stacked against them, there was still that buzz and optimism that maybe something strange could unfold.

For a few minutes, it did feel on. News filtered through of a Mansfield goal at Barrow and the wave of excitement surged through the crowd.

If the players were oblivious, they must have sensed something extraordinary in the vibe around the place.

City had been gifted the ideal fixture to complete their side of the bargain.

Newport had been two points off the play-offs after winning at Wimbledon on the same day Rupp was facing fierce stick during Mansfield’s barrage.

But that was the point when the Exiles effectively packed up for the season. This was their eighth defeat on the bounce from then.

The bookies had quoted the visitors at a ridiculous 9/1 to spoil any Valley Parade party – underdog odds that looked a bit generous when they fashioned two decent chances for Seb Palmer-Houlden with the game goalless.

City, with Jamie Walker returning keenly to the ranks following his ban from Barrow, turned the screw as the first half progressed.

Crawley were two up and cruising by the time the Bantams did strike just before the break.

Walker swapped passes with Brad Halliday, who added a fourth league assist to his season prize haul by setting up Calum Kavanagh’s free header.

Newport then promptly allowed City aerial freedom once again. This time it was Andy Cook rising above the black shirts unchallenged to convert Richie Smallwood’s free-kick.

Another goal in the last month from a set-piece as the skipper continued his rich vein of April form.

And due reward for Cook’s efforts as he finished on 19 goals for the season.

The pick of the bunch came, inevitably, from Bobby Pointon.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Bobby Pointon gets a hug from Tyreik Wright after his superb finishBobby Pointon gets a hug from Tyreik Wright after his superb finish (Image: Thomas Gadd)

The idol of the Kop crowned a memorable breakthrough campaign with another cracker 12 minutes into the second half.

It came from a half-cleared corner, just like his goal in Cumbria, Smallwood recycling the loose ball to feed Pointon in the D.

A quick touch to get it out of his feet and then an arcing left foot sent the shot screaming into the top corner.

Add the “why didn’t Pointon get a chance for two months” argument to the long list of “what ifs” in the end-of-season verdict.

A lull then followed with a general acceptance among the crowd that whatever City achieved would not impact the final table.

Newport pulled a scruffy goal back, Harry Charsley reacting to the rebound from his own flick-on to rifle a consolation.

But Alexander’s substitutions shook things up and a flurry of late chances was rewarded with a late fourth, Smallwood winning possession with a crunching challenge and Walker combining neatly with Cook to score.