Centre halves Mark Creighton and Jake Wright were both sent off as Oxford United endured their worst afternoon in League Two this season at Valley Parade on Saturday.

In a nightmare second half, the Bantams scored three goals in the first 18 minutes, with Jamaican international Omar Daley getting two of them.

Creighton then saw red for a second yellow card, with a late tackle on Daley, in the 70th minute.

And that sparked a mass brawl in which Bradford’s centre forward James Hanson appeared to elbow Wright in the head, and the U’s defender retaliated, it seemed, with a punch.

Both Hanson and Wright were also dismissed, leaving it City’s ten players against United’s nine for the final 20 minutes.

Daley struck two cracking goals in the space of nine minutes at the start of the second half to sentence United to their second successive away defeat.

In the battle between League Two’s two best-supported clubs, there wasn’t much between the sides for the first 45 minutes.

But then Daley took centre stage, with his second goal a real beauty, before Lee Hendrie added a third from the penalty spot.

That was cruel on U’s goalkeeper Ryan Clarke who brilliantly saved Hendrie’s spot kick, pushing the ball around his left post at full stretch.

But the referee’s assistant waved his flag to inform the ref that Clarke had moved early, and at the second time of asking Hendrie shot low into the other bottom corner.

United had made a bad start to the second half, conceding a goal in the 48th minute when they momentarily let their concentration slip.

Tall centre forward Hanson challenged for a cross from deep and it ran to Omar Daley, left unmarked, for the striker to turn and shoot low past Clarke from 14 yards.

But bad turned to worse on 57 minutes as Daley dribbled into the box past two players and rifled home a left-footed drive for a spectacular goal.

Hendrie added his third from the spot, after Wright had tripped Hanson when the striker got round the back of United’s defence.

And with the visitors short on numbers, City added a fourth goal three minutes from the end, substitute David Syers volleying home at the far post, and then a fifth, with another sub, Louis Moult, shooting home from 20 yards.

It was great to see Oxford United back in league action at a big football ground, with the 25,000-capacity Coral Windows Stadium an impressive arena, but this will not evoke many happy memories for their 771 travelling fans.

Playing in all white, United forced a corner in the first ten seconds, though it was comfortably defended.

But Josh Payne, who agreed in the week to sign a two and a half year contract in January, was not far away from opening the scoring on four minutes.

He turned in then out to give himself time, and delivered a powerful drive from just outside the box, that fizzed past the keeper’s right-hand post.

The keeper was a new one to Bradford fans, with Peter Taylor signing former Chelsea and Woking man Lenny Pidgeley on a short-term contract, and dropping Jon McLaughlin, who had been the Bantams’ only ever-present this season.

Taylor made five changes to the team beaten heavily at Burton, though a couple were enforced with two Manchester United youngsters returning to Old Trafford at the end of their loan periods.

For the U’s, there was a first start for a month for Mark Creighton, taking over from Harry Worley at centre back following his good showing as a sub against Northampton last week.

Jake Wright, back at the club that released him four years ago, had moments of good and bad midway through the first half.

He gave the ball away carelessly, and might have been punished because Omar Daley found space on the right to deliver a testing cross, that Clarke collected authoritatively.

But a few minutes later, Wright’s perfectly-timed tackle stopped Daley dead in his tracks.

Both teams tried to keep the ball on the ground and pass their way around their opponents, which was pleasing on the eye but sometimes meant chances were at a premium.

Bradford got their first real sight of goal in the 37th minute, though it came from Oxford United’s making.

First, Simon Heslop tried a backheel that didn’t come off, giving City possession. And then, when they did get the ball back, in their own penalty area, Tom Craddock wasn’t strong enough in his defending, presenting Daley with the opportunity to shoot, Clarke saving above his head.

Two minutes later, Daley wriggled past two challenges near the penalty spot, but could only toe-poke the ball wide as Clarke came out.

Richie Baker replaced Payne for the second half, but that was less than three minutes old when Daley fired Bradford in front.

The second half was a disaster from start to finish for the U’s, who were run ragged, and lost both their shape and discipline.

Oxford Utd: Clarke, Purkiss, Creighton, Wright, Tonkin, Heslop, Payne (Baker h-t), Hall (Green 67), Potter (Worley 73), Constable, Craddock. Subs not used: Eastwood, Batt, Midson, Cole.

Referee: David Webb (County Durham).

Att: 11,376 (751 from Oxford).