OF the over 2,000 City fans in attendance at Meadow Lane yesterday, probably at least a tenth of them missed David McGoldrick’s opening goal as they were still waiting to get into the ground.

A disrupted rail service was partly to blame, while the ticket queues were long and moving a little slowly when this reporter passed them just after 20 past 12, having been on said broken down train along with many Bantams fans, which had been due to arrive in Nottingham for 10am.

And there were plenty of Bantams fans who missed City’s battling fightback in the second half too, having left the ground in disgust at half-time with their team 4-0 down.

In the end, a Richard Brindley own-goal and a fine strike from Jamie Walker meant City came away with a semi-respectable 4-2 defeat, but the damage had been done in a defensively disastrous first half, in which Notts County’s attack simply ran riot.

City’s tale of woe started after only five minutes, when a lovely ball from man of the match Dan Crowley inside the returning Lewis Richards sets up Aaron Nemane, whose low ball across was slid home by McGoldrick.

The Bantams were lucky not to concede again when Harry Lewis makes a meal of John Bostock’s long-range strike, parrying it straight to Crowley.

But the former Arsenal academy midfielder skewed his shot, and though it was flicked home by the prolific Macaulay Langstaff, the flag went up for offside against the striker.

Richards looked all at sea early on, with boss Graham Alexander frustrated with himself for leaving the young left-back so isolated before the break.

In trying to intercept a ball through to Nemane, the former Wolves defender gifted possession to the County wide man instead. He managed to flick a pass off to Langstaff, who whipped a low shot just wide.

City’s first half-chance came after a fine burst down the right by Bobby Pointon, whose cross just evaded Tyler Smith and was headed down into the ground and wide by Andy Cook.

Alex Gilliead then had a cross cleared as far as Richie Smallwood, and after the skipper laid it off to Cook, the big striker hit a left-footed shot on the turn that went inches wide.

A foul on Pointon 25 yards out gave Walker a tempting free-kick from a central position, but the Scot started his effort out too wide and too high and it was always going off target.

Notts somehow failed to score a second when a brilliant cross in from Bostock was met by Langstaff, only for a star-jumping Lewis to somehow block the header with his leg, before Ash Taylor did brilliantly to block Crowley’s shot behind on the rebound.

City hit back, and a brilliant flick by Pointon put Halliday in down the right.

The full-back’s superb cross was headed towards goal by Cook from close range, but he agonisingly put his effort straight at Sam Slocombe in the County goal.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The story of Andy Cook's day was a whole host of missed chances.The story of Andy Cook's day was a whole host of missed chances. (Image: Thomas Gadd.)

After a shaky opening 15 minutes, City had fought their way right back into the contest and their next half-chance came when Smith almost got in behind from a teasing ball over the top.

But Slocombe got their first and County broke expertly.

Sam Stubbs failed to cut out a slide rule ball through to McGoldrick, whose shot was saved by Lewis and fell to Bostock on the edge of the box.

The former Spurs and Crystal Palace midfielder took his time before shooting across Lewis and the covering Taylor into the far corner, with the ball deflecting in off the lucky Langstaff’s knee.

That goal came after 36 minutes, so it was imperative that the Bantams did not concede again before the break.

Instead, they crumbled in embarrassing fashion.

The third goal was so simple, as Crowley received a pass in behind the away midfield.

He had all the time in the world to slide in Langstaff, who, even with a suspicion of offside, had far too much space in between centre backs Stubbs and Taylor to be able to slot the ball home.

At 3-0 down, City’s chances looked slim, but they came close to pulling a goal back when Cook’s drive from the edge of the box was beaten away by Slocombe.

Instead it was County who grabbed the next goal, ending the game as a contest once and for all in first-half injury-time.

Pointon was robbed 25 yards from his own goal by Jim O’Brien, the ball landing at Langstaff’s feet.

He prodded a pass through to Crowley, who whipped a glorious arcing shot from just inside the box beyond Lewis for 4-0.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: City's players looking dejected en masse after conceding yet again in a dreadful first-half display defensively.City's players looking dejected en masse after conceding yet again in a dreadful first-half display defensively. (Image: Thomas Gadd.)

City’s players were, deservedly and understandably, booed back on to the field for the second half, with Alexander making drastic changes.

He brought on Matty Platt and Ciaran Kelly for Taylor and Pointon, switching to a 3-5-2 formation from the initial 4-2-2-2 that he had set up with in the first half.

The difference was striking, with Halliday in particular having an inspired second half, causing Notts no end of problems down the right.

Led by Halliday, City’s high press was ferocious after the break, and the hosts simply could not deal with it.

The first real chance after the break saw Kelly head just wide from Halliday's cross.

The Bantams right-back then slid Smith in behind, with the striker's effort parried behind by Slocombe.

From the resulting corner by Walker, Cook headed an effort on to the roof of the net.

Halliday continued to cause problems, and his ball to the back post was headed across goal by Cook to Smith, but the latter could only knock his shot over the bar on the stretch.

City finally got the goal their incessant pressure deserved just before the hour mark.

Halliday had a shot blocked, which came back to Gilliead on the edge of the area.

He struck a speculative effort, which Brindley inadvertently deflected beyond Slocombe and in.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Graham Alexander made changes to his tactics and formation at the break, and City looked a different side in the second half.Graham Alexander made changes to his tactics and formation at the break, and City looked a different side in the second half. (Image: Thomas Gadd.)

The Bantams roared straight back at County after that goal and harassed them into giving the ball away in midfield.

Walker drove forward and fed Cook, who cut inside his defender in the box, but he took ages to make a decision and has his eventual shot well blocked.

Cook came close again when he headed a great deep cross by Richards just over the bar,

Notts briefly threatened to turn the tide back in their favour, and after Kelly sliced the ball behind for a corner, McGoldrick whipped a shot just wide from the edge of the box.

Stubbs was having a dreadful afternoon and he coughed up possession near his own goal.

McGoldrick came close to controlling and scoring from Langstaff's subsequent cross, but Lewis blocked the shot with his leg and City scrambled enough bodies back to prevent Notts doing anything meaningful with the rebound.

Smith had a shot blocked after more good work from Halliday, who was fouled earlier in the move by McGoldrick.

The former Sheffield United striker was booked for that challenge, before he then dragged an effort wide at the other end.

Cook got his feet in a tangle twice in quick succession in the box when he had chances to score, with the only shot in the end Walker's blocked one.

Walker then took a corner, with the ball knocked down for Adam Wilson, who had just come on for Smith, but the young winger could not quite force it home.

The loose ball fell to Gilliead, who fired the ball across the face of goal but no one was there to prod it in.

City did get their second goal moments later and it again came from that ferocious press.

After they won the ball back in the Notts half again, Halliday drove forward and slipped in Walker, who drilled a fine low strike across Slocombe and into the bottom corner.

There were still 15 minutes to go when the Scot netted, and the reaction from fans and players alike suggested they still believed in the most extraordinary of comebacks.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Jamie Walker's goal on 75 minutes offered the Bantams a glimmer of hope.Jamie Walker's goal on 75 minutes offered the Bantams a glimmer of hope. (Image: Thomas Gadd.)

City nearly got their third goal when Kelly's superb deep cross was headed just over by Cook.

A sign of the need to time waste for a frantic County had come when substitute Adebayo was booked almost immediately after coming on for delaying a restart.

His fellow substitute Junior Morias did have the chance to put the game to bed for the hosts, but he sliced a shot just wide.

Langstaff then managed to fends off Stubbs in behind but dragged his shot wide.

The Bantams had the last real chance of the game, as Gilliead's shot was bravely blocked by Brindley, and squirted out to Halliday.

The right-back delivered another brilliant cross and Cook steamed in and headed the ball towards goal.

Despite Slocombe nearly fumbling the ball over his own line, he gathered the ball safely in the end, as City’s hopes of a remarkable comeback were finally extinguished.

The win takes Notts back into the automatic promotion places in League Two and means City, despite showing all that promise after the break, are just six points above the drop zone in 19th.

Alexander’s side host Barnsley at Valley Parade on Tuesday evening in the Bristol Street Motors Trophy, knowing a confidence-boosting win would see them top their group and face a home tie in the last-32.

Then it is another home game next Saturday, in the league against Accrington Stanley.

The Lancastrians remain in the play-off places after an excellent 2-0 win over Wrexham yesterday.