THE Bantams have lost seven of their 17 League Two games so far this season, a dispiriting record that leaves them down in 18th.

They had also played all of the current top four by October 21, so to be fair, tough start, right?

Well, not exactly, as City continue to be, well, typical City.

Despite losing over 40 per cent of their fourth-tier fixtures so far, none of those defeats have come against the ‘fantastic four’.

City were pegged back by a late equaliser to draw 1-1 at Stockport, with skipper Richie Smallwood insisting his men were more than a match for the now-leaders.

At a buoyant Valley Parade last month, Adam Wilson thumped home a late equaliser to ensure the Bantams grabbed a point against ‘Hollywood’ Wrexham in a thrilling contest.

Third-placed Mansfield are scoring at an average of just under two goals per game, yet City reduced them to just a single shot on target in the pair’s 0-0 draw at Field Mill in early-September.

And Crewe, who jumped up to fourth after their dramatic last-gasp win over Notts County last weekend, were beaten 1-0 in BD8 at the end of August, as Jamie Walker netted a 43rd-minute winner.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Jamie Walker scores the winner against Crewe earlier this season.Jamie Walker scores the winner against Crewe earlier this season. (Image: Thomas Gadd.)

Not to tempt fate, but if the Bantams leave County’s Meadow Lane this afternoon with a point or three, that means none of the ‘famous five’ will have been able to best the West Yorkshire side in this first half of the season.

If that solid record against the division’s high-flyers had been backed up by the Bantams’ other results, Graham Alexander’s men would likely be mixing it among the play-off places themselves.

But, City being City, they have fallen short in games they were expected to win.

They only have 14 points from their other 13 games, including defeats away to rock-bottom Sutton and Tranmere, who only moved out of the relegation zone by winning their last league game against fellow strugglers Forest Green.

Throw in there a depressing 3-1 home defeat to bottom-half Walsall and a 4-1 loss at a then-floundering MK Dons and there you have a set of results that immediately negate the good work done against the current top four.

It’s hard to pinpoint what these Jekyll and Hyde results stem from, but we can at least speculate.

Do City seem inspired to perform better when they go into a game as underdogs, or at most, seen as equals to their opposition?

Maybe it suits the Bantams for those top teams to go after them, rather than those lower down who are almost baiting City to try and break them down?

Are they weighed down by fan expectation (even though the long-suffering supporters have every right to expect) to win handsomely when they come up against your Suttons and Tranmeres?

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Sutton had only won two league games all season before City rocked up at the end of October.Sutton had only won two league games all season before City rocked up at the end of October. (Image: Thomas Gadd.)

This is not a new problem either.

Jamie Walker is one of City’s longest-serving players, having joined on loan in January 2022, before making that move permanent a few months later.

Speaking to the T&A on Thursday afternoon, he said: “Over the course of the period I’ve been at the football club, we’ve always seemed to do well against the so-called bigger teams, or those who are doing well in the league at that moment.

“We’ll take confidence from that going into this game against Notts County and hopefully we can get three points.

“If we do that, we can start looking up the table again.”

That first part of his answer is not wrong either.

In a turbulent 2021-22 season, Mark Hughes took a while to get going after taking over from Derek Adams in the February, winning just two of his first 10 league games.

But, naturally, one of those was 2-0 at Forest Green, who finished the season as champions.

In the penultimate game of that season, a superb City crushed Sutton 4-1 at Gander Green Lane, with that victory essentially costing the Londoners a top-seven berth.

The Bantams themselves finished 14th, nearly 20 points off the play-off places.

Moving into 2022-23, and City did the double over second-placed Stevenage, scoring six goals in two games against a side that only conceded 39 times all season.

They also won 2-1 at Northampton in late-April, a victory that came so close to denying the Cobblers automatic promotion.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Romoney Crichlow celebrates his dramatic late winner at Northampton last season.Romoney Crichlow celebrates his dramatic late winner at Northampton last season. (Image: Thomas Gadd.)

The Bantams also did the double over fellow play-off finishers Salford, while a 1-1 draw against champions Leyton Orient on the final day in front of a bumper crowd at Valley Parade ensured a top-seven finish.

This is not a new phenomenon, and while City’s generally strong performances against the division’s leading lights mean they are rarely in any sort of relegation danger, their tendency to flop against the strugglers keeps them largely penned in mid-table.

Don’t be surprised by a positive result at Notts County today, as it’s the kind of thing City do.

But in their next away game, at second-bottom Forest Green, don’t be surprised by a ‘shock’ defeat either…