Joseph Mills grabbed a stoppage-time winner to produce a Forest Green smash and grab in a dramatic climax at Bradford City.

The Forest Green captain was on hand to plant a 93rd-minute header beyond Richard O’Donnell.

The high-octane drama continued when Matt Mills was yellow carded for returning to the pitch without the permission of the referee and sent off soon after for what appeared to be a legitmate tackle.

And this breathless encounter was still giving when Kelvin Mellor thought he had snatched Bradford parity in the eighth- minute of stoppage time, but an offside flag spared Rovers to shock the Yorkshire side to their first defeat of the season, sending Mark Cooper’s side up to third in the early season table.

Irked by Forest Green’s first defeat of the season at Port Vale in mid-week, manager Cooper made five changes. Consigned to the bench went Dom Bernard, Aaron Collins, James Morton, Nathan McGinley and Junior Mondal.

In a tweaked 4-3-3 formation – concussion-free Farrend Rawson came into the centre of defence alongside Matt Mills with Udoka Godwin-Malife dropping into right-back and Liam Kitching coming in for his full league debut at left-back. Captain Joseph Mills was pushed up to the left of midfield and the mercurial Dayle Grubb was afforded his first full start of the season. Striker Shawn McCoulsky returned after being rested in the defeat at Port Vale.

You could almost taste the high-octane atmosphere reverberating around the stadium that not many moons ago boasted Premier League football. The Bantams have aspirations of returning to their lofty perch and under the experienced suited and booted Gary Bowyer they’ve made a strong start to live in League Two – veteran striker Clayton Donaldson was quickly into his stride – tussling with Yorkshire- born Kitching in the early exchanges – the teenager showing commendable Yorkshire grit against the elder statesman.

City were hitting their straps. Ben Richards- Everton skinning Dawson and Connor Wood arching one over.

Bradford captain James Vaughan still boasts the record as the youngest scorer in the Premier League, hitting the target as a 16-year-old for Everton and he proved he’s lost none of his pedigree as the now 31-year-old picked the pocket of Rawson to set his side on the front-foot Bradford picked up the first booking when Daniel Devine incurred a 22nd-miunte yellow for upending Rovers’ Joseph Mills.

And it was the purposeful running of Joseph Mills that induced another foul .Hope Akpan stopped his surge and from the free-kick the Rovers’ captain floated his opportunity onto the top of Richard O’Donnell’s net with 15 minutes of the half to go.

Bradford captain James Vaughan still boasts the record as the youngest scorer in the Premier League, hitting the target as a 16-year-old for Everton and he proved he’s lost none of his pedigree as the now 31-year-old picked the pocket of Rawson to set his side on the front-foot, but a sliding tackle from Carl Winchester in the box on Jordan Gibson spared the blushes.

On the cusp of the break Ebou Adams was handed a yellow for a challenge on Richards-Everton with the partisan home crowd baying for blood.

With City frustrated by the deadlock, the roof nearly came off when the busy Gibson let fly from 30 yards – his skidder flashing just wide with two minutes of the half left on the watch.

Rovers had one last hurrah – Grubb driving through midfield in added time to set Ebou Adams free - the robust midfielder was tripped on the edge of the box and Joseph Mills found his free-kick range by drilling the ball into the grateful O’Donnell for the first meaningful save of the half.

With Devine on a first-half yellow, Bowyer made one change at the break – ushering on new signing Jamie Devitt.

No quarter was being given – Rovers looked to turn the screw when Grubb slalomed into the box, but Kelvin Mellor go a last-gasp tackle in.

Cooper turned to his bench – Bernard replacing Godwin-Malife on 54 minutes. Rovers were upping the ante. Matt Mills spanked a header into O’Donnell from a deep Winchester cross.

The fourth booking of a stop-start contest went to Rovers’ Kitching for catching Donaldson on the turn.

Rovers were finding their range. Bernard stepped on the gas for the increasingly influential Grubb to arrow his shot from the edge of the box for a routine O’Donnell gather.

Rovers were indebted to the sharp reflexes of Joe Wollacott with 24 minutes to go. The Bristol City loanne thwarted Devitt’s close-range stinger.

Wollacott was on his mettle again – denying Donaldson from point-blank range on the volley from a Matt Mills clearing header.

Cooper showed his final hand by hooking McCoulsky with 11 minutes to go for Matty Stevens.

With booking count numbering seven -eight minutes of time was added on and Rovers made their mark. Grubb’s clever ball to Dawson saw him stand a cross up onto the head of the towering Joseph Mills for a smash and grab win in the 93rd minute.

Bradford thought they had netted parity in the eight minute of stoppage time when Mellor turned the ball home, but he was adjudged offside, much to the angst of the home crowd.

BRADFORD CITY: O’ Donnell, Mellor, Richards-Everton, O’Connor, Palmer (Cooke 75), Gibson (Scannell 65), Akpan, Wood, Devine (Devitt 45), Vaughan, Donaldson

Subs not used: Hornby, O’Connor, Anderson

Bookings: Devine 24, Donaldson 36, Akpan 85

FOREST GREEN: Woollacott, Godwin-Malife (Bernard 54), M. Mills, Rawson, Kitching ( McGinley 68), J.Mills, Dawson, Winchester, Grubb, McCoulsky (Stevens 79)

Subs not used: Thomas, Collins, Mondal ,Morton

Bookings: Adams 39, Kitching 58 ,Winchester 77, Grubb 89, M. Mills 97

Star man: Dayle Grubb

Attendance: 13,504

Referee: Mr Andy Haines