JAMES Green was sent off as the Bulls missed out on the chance to top the Championship with defeat at Sheffield.

A third straight win would have lifted them into pole position – for 24 hours at least.

But instead it’s Sheffield who can look down on the rest of the division after a powerful second-half display following Green’s 49th-minute red card.

Bulls were missing Dane Chisholm, who was pulled out on the morning of the game after his wife gave birth to their first child Nyah overnight. Rowan Milnes got the call to partner Jordan Lilley in the halves.

Jon Magrin made his second debut for the club, having made 29 appearances last year with Sheffield. Olsi Krasniqi was also included for the first game of his month’s loan from Toronto.

The Olympic Legacy Park is due to be transformed next year into a 3,900-capacity stadium and the plans look good. But it is currently a million miles off that and resembles the sort of ground the Bulls thought they had left behind in League One.

The lack of facilities, though, could not dampen the enthusiasm for a top-four clash between two sides who had burst out the blocks with successive victories.

The early exchanges were predictably tight with defences to the fore.

But the Bulls struck on 11 minutes after a clever looping pass out wide from Lilley. Ethan Ryan slipped it back inside and centre Ross Oakes was on his shoulder to go over in the corner.

And they immediately followed with a slick second. Milnes, who had begun brightly, broke into home territory, creating space with a show and go before unleashing Ryan to run round behind the posts.

Sheffield needed a response and got it after 25 minutes as full back Josh Guzdek broke the line to score from close range. Patch Walker’s extras cut the lead to 10-6.

Elliot Minchella and Jy Hitchcox combined to drag Guzdek into touch on a zero tackle. But James Green wasted the advantage by spilling the ball in a heavy hit 15 metres out.

Bulls were given a team warning after three successive penalties but Jason Crooks also lost possession in a scoring position as he tried to plunge in the right corner.

Bradford had not seen Sheffield territory for a while as the Eagles enjoyed a spell of pressure.

But as half-time approached, Ryan did brilliantly to claim a Lilley bomb and offload to Oakes on the floor before the hosts scrambled to nab him close to the line.

Sheffield began the second period knocking on the door again but Krasniqi made his mark with Elliot Minchella to force a knock-on.

Referee Marcus Griffiths was dishing out the penalties but waved play on when Ryan looked to be impeded as he chased a Lilley high kick.

But Griffiths took firm action when both sides converged after a Bradford high shot – by flashing a red card at Green, presumably for throwing a punch in the melee.

That left the Bulls facing the final half hour one down and they immediately needed to show great defence to foil a home raid by their line.

Sheffield were also briefly down to 12 men as Ben Blackmore was yellow-carded in the same incident.

They were back to full quota as Oakes nearly broke through on the short side. But it was the resolute manner of the Bulls defence that continued to preserve the slender advantage.

The resistance was broken after 63 minutes from a sensational break from Ryan Millar. He raced nearly 70 yards before being desperately dragged down – but James Glover finished it off from dummy half.

He booted the ball away in celebration before Walker tapped over an easy conversion to give Sheffield their first lead.

The Eagles were in the ascendancy and quickly struck again. Matt James rampaged deep into Bulls territory before Brad Knowles went over by the post – although it did not appear that he grounded the ball properly.

A hard night then got tougher as Lilley was yellow-carded for dissent, reducing the Bulls to 11 men for the final throes.

Joel Farrell took advantage of their depleted ranks to power over for Sheffield’s fourth try. Walker maintained his perfect record with the boot as the Bulls misery was sealed.

Man of the match:

Ethan Ryan set up the opening Bulls try and then ran in the second and posed an athletic threat on the wing.

Moment of the match

James Green’s red card early in the second half left the Bulls to play over half an hour with a man down – a task that ultimately proved too tough.

Referee: Marcus Griffiths (Widnes)

Attendance: 1,711

SHEFFIELD: Guzdek 7; Millar 7, Glover 7, Crookes 7, Blackmore 7; Walker 7, Thackeray 7; James 7, G Burns 7, Knowles 7, Farrell 8, Davies 7, Brown 7. Interchange: Makelim, Broadbent, Esslemont, P Burns.

BULLS: Pickersgill 6; Hitchcox 6, Evans 6, Oakes 6, Ryan 8; Milnes 6, Lilley 6; Kirk 6, Wildie 6, Crossley 6, Farrell 6, Minchella 6, Magrin 6. Interchange: Flanagan 6, Green 6, Garside 7, Krasniqi 6.