Manager Gary Bowyer paid tribute to Bradford midfielder Jake Reeves as he continued to impress after 20 months out with a persistent groin injury.
Reeves was man of the match as Bradford consolidated their League Two play-off place with a 1-0 win over Newport in a scrappy game at Valley Parade – Newport’s fourth defeat in a row.
The match was settled in the 58th minute with a penalty from James Vaughan. The Bradford skipper intercepted a long back-pass from Ryan Inniss and was taking the ball round Nick Townsend when the Newport goalkeeper brought him down.
Townsend was booked for the offence before Vaughan scored from the subsequent spot-kick.
Bradford nearly doubled their lead in the 66th minute when Reeves’ free-kick from the right found Aramide Oteh unmarked in the box, but Townsend made a brilliant save to turn his header on to the underside of the bar.
Reeves, who joined Bradford from Wimbledon in the 2017 close season, had not played a match since January 2018 until he returned to action in a Leasing.com Trophy match against Rochdale on November 12.
He returned to league action in Bradford’s 1-1 draw at Macclesfield last Saturday.
Bowyer said: “He played 82 minutes at Macclesfield. He played a full game today with even more confidence.
“He is a wonderful footballer. He looks like a new signing, how he plays the game, the standards he sets and how he helps other players.
“I tell the other players ‘listen to what Reevesy tells you’.”
The Bradford boss, who was booked in the second half along with Newport counterpart Michael Flynn, added: “You always have to work hard in every game and this was no different. I thought we did very well.
“Kelvin Mellor had a header in the first half following a great delivery from Jake Reeves and I expected him to score. The same with Oteh. Newport didn’t have a shot on target in the first half.
“In the second half the intensity shown by Oteh led to the error. James Vaughan intercepted the back-pass brilliantly and was pulled down by the keeper.
“The whole place lifted when the penalty went in and I was disappointed we didn’t score more, although the keeper made two outstanding saves.”
Flynn said: “I had four kids on the bench today. I cannot affect that. There is nothing I can do about it.
“To come here with a depleted squad, we held our own against a team I think will be in the top three.
“We lost with a big mistake. We wanted to win today. I am frustrated we lost.”