CHESTER were left to rue a string of wasted second-half chances as their commanding lead at the top was cut to 13 points.
The goalless draw ended Neil Young’s side’s 12-match Blue Square Bet North winning run and marked the first time they have failed to score in a league fixture since August 2011 – a remarkable sequence stretching back 62 games.
That the records were ruined by Bradford will come as no surprise to Blues supporters.
The West Yorkshire outfit won last season’s corresponding fixture with a last-minute wonder goal and strengthened their claim to be Chester’s bogey team when they defended heroically to earn a point in this season’s reverse fixture at the Exacta Stadium.
Bradford, after edging a feisty first half at their Horsfall Stadium home, once again had to ride their luck to grab a share of the spoils.
That they did also owed much to their goalkeeper John Lamb, who saved Matty McGinn’s 57th-minute penalty and then went on to produce a string of superb stops to repel the Blues.
Yet it was the unchanged visitors who found themselves on the back foot in the opening period.
On a heavy and sodden pitch, set-pieces looked the best bet for a goal before the break.
And it was from a third-minute corner that the hosts went closest to breaking the deadlock when returning captain James Knowles glanced a Jordan Deacey delivery just wide.
Deacey later called John Danby into action for the first time while Ross Daly saw a drive deflect over after enterprising wide play from substitute Matty James.
The Blues, who also had to make an early change after Ashley Williams hobbled off with a thigh injury, did enjoy periods of control.
And they would have led at the interval had Paul Linwood not had a close-range effort disallowed for offside.
Yet too often they were all too easily riled by a Bradford side clearly fired-up after suffering five straight league defeats. Indeed Craig Curran, who was replaced by Dave Hankin at half-time after feeling ill, escaped a red card with a 13th-minute challenge that sparked the third melee of the match.
Tempers cooled after the restart and the game improved because of it.
Danny Holland was unable to punish some uncharacteristically hesitant goalkeeping from Danby, who redeemed himself by saving from Knowles shortly after.
The let-offs sparked Chester into life and they went on to dominate the rest of the contest.
Their prolonged pressure should have brought the opening goal and no-one went closer than Nathan Jarman, the sub beating the offside trap and curling a shot that beat Lamb all ends up but came back off the post.
Seconds later Jarman was brought down in the box.
McGinn was the man to step up to the spot but his side-footed penalty was turned aside by Lamb.
The heroic keeper, who came out of retirement last month, later showed superb reactions to deny Hankin and McGinn before he got the better of Marc Williams in a one-on-one with the sub.
Lamb should have been given no chance by Danny Williams 10 minutes from time but the winger fired over the bar when clean through.
And when Lamb was eventually beaten, a linesman’s flag ruled out a Marc Williams header that flew into the bottom corner much to the anger of Blues boss Young.
Bradford: Lamb, Clayton, Knowles, Price, Duckworth, Daly (Corner 80), Deacey, Davidson (James 26), Daly, Walker, Holland (O’Brien 80). Subs: Snodin, Drury.
Booked: Clayton, Knowles, Daly, Price.
Chester: Danby, Baynes, Horan, Linwood, McGinn, Curran (Hankin 46), A Williams (Jarman 23), Turner, D Williams, Sarcevic, Mills (M Williams 72). Subs: Collins, Howard.
Booked: Curran, McGinn, Sarcevic.
Referee: Richard Wigglesworth (South Yorkshire).