Bradford (Park Avenue) jumped to third in the National League North table after seeing off Hereford at Edgar Street.
It was Bradford’s fourth win in six games, and the West Yorkshire side swept aside the fancied hosts with another encouraging display.
Mark Bower made two changes from the side that held Stockport County, reinstating Nicky Wroe to the starting eleven and handing Lewis Knight his first start. Ben McKenna withdrew from the squad altogether with an injury and Chris Dawson had to settle for a place on the bench. In a formation that would infuriate kit number traditionalists, Wroe lined-up in central midfield despite sporting the number seven shirt and Knight operated on the right flank whilst wearing number eight.
The hosts started brightly, and Johnson had to make a crucial interception to prevent Mike McGrath’s pass reaching an on-rushing Harry White. Moments later, Lewis Knight had to blast clear as an advancing Jordan Liburd came close to connecting with a cross from the right.
White then nodded into the path of Eliot Richards, who arrived in the box unmarked but skewed wide.
The Bulls threatened again but once again failed to convert as Keyon Reffell failed to reach McGrath’s delivery ahead of Mark Ross.
The hosts had ventured forward on numerous occasions without troubling Steven Drench and the best opportunity of the opening twenty minutes fell to the visitors. Martin Horsell was forced to tip a powerful header from Oli Johnson over crossbar at point blank range and it proved to be the catalyst for a shift in momentum.
Wroe delivered from the right and found Conor Branson, who powered a header past Horsell in the Hereford goal.
McGrath sent a free-kick into the clutches of Drench barely a minute later as the hunt for an equaliser before the interval began. After Luca Havern challenged Jordan Lam strongly, the rebound fell to Danny Greenslade and the left-back forced Drench to push his thunderous effort wide.
Greenslade and Lam then combined well to release the former, but his cross was blocked by a back-tracking Johnson.
Greenslade accelerated down the left flank again as Hereford searched for the elusive equaliser and unleashed a vicious strike after cutting in, but was thwarted by Drench’s excellent save.
With half-time approaching, Jamie Spencer unleashed a thunderous effort of his own from around 30-yards out but watched as it whistled over the woodwork.
HALF-TIME: Hereford 0-1 Bradford (Park Avenue)
Johnson cut open Hereford’s defence within minutes of the restart. He threaded through to Jake Beesley, only for the forward to be dispossessed by a recovering Ryan Green before he could pull the trigger.
Hereford, however, broke quickly and Drench had to be alert to palm Harry White’s effort wide.
The lively Johnson was a persistent thorn in the Bulls’ side and became more dangerous as the second-half progressed. He skipped past Greenslade with ease and delivered from the left, but Beesley failed to wriggle away from Jordan Liburd and the opposition’s captain cleared.
Calvin Dinsley had been introduced before the half-time interval and found McGrath in space with an inch-perfect pass, only for the midfielder to lose his footing and allow Shane Killock to clear.
Branson almost scored his second headed goal of the game on the hour mark, but his powerful effort was tipped over the crossbar by Horsell.
Despite having a lead to protect, the visitors remained keen to pile bodies forward when in possession and continued to enjoy opportunites as the game entered its final 25 minutes.
Beesley escaped his marker to slip in behind the Bulls backline, but saw a drilled effort beaten away by Horsell.
Barely 30 seconds later, a goal was nearly gifted to Mark Bower’s side. Keiran Thomas’ tame back pass was latched on to by Beesley, but the loanee failed to maintain his composure and blazed over.
Danny Boshell was introduced in the 76th minute and after just three minutes on the pitch, he won a penalty for his side. McGrath clipped the veteran’s ankles, giving Johnson the opportunity to step up and convert from 12-yards. The Bradford man did just that, steering the ball past Horsell to double the visitors’ advantage.
An instant reply was required to give the hosts a chance of salvaging a point, but Jamie Bird sent a volley wide after the ball fell kindly for the substitute on the edge of the box.
McGrath tried his luck from a similar position, but saw his left-footed strike saved by a seemingly unstoppable Drench.
The stopper was eventually beaten, as White made no mistake from the penalty spot after Ross had collided with Bird.
Hereford rallied, but White’s low drive from the right-hand side of the box was beaten away by Drench and it proved to be the final opportunity of the game.
FULL-TIME: Hereford 1-2 Bradford (Park Avenue)
Hereford: Horsell, Thomas, Greenslade (L. Smith 64′), Murphy, Green, Liburd (c), Reffell (Dinsley 35′), Richards, White, McGrath, Lam (Bird 61′).
Unused substitutes: H. Smith, Mayebi.
Bradford (Park Avenue): Drench, Ross, Clee, Branson, Killock (c), Havern, Wroe, Knight (Nowakowski 84′), Beesley, Johnson (Dawson 90+3′), Spencer (Boshell 76′)
Unused substitutes: Toulson, Atkinson.
Referee: Richard Gardner
Report: Tom Coates