Bradford took a first half lead through a Lee Evans tap-in, before Peter Vincenti levelled four minutes before the break.
However, the second half belonged to the visitors as Devante Cole put them ahead just shy of the hour mark, before an own goal from Oliver Lancashire made it 3-1.
Keith Hill was forced into one change from Tuesday night’s win over Shrewsbury Town, as Ian Henderson was ruled out through injury. Callum Camps came in to replace him.
The first half was a slow burner as both sides failed to find their rhythm early on. Dale grew into their passing game slowly and began to work some openings, but the only real chance fell to Calvin Andrew, who headed over a Peter Vincenti right wing cross.
However, it was the visitors who took the lead in the 34th minute. A free-kick was won on the edge of the area following a contentious throw-in award. Tony McMahon’s effort was deflected through the wall and perfectly into the path of Evans, who finished easily from close range.
It looked as though Dale would be behind going into the break, but four minutes before half-time Vincenti scored his sixth goal in seven games to level the scores. Camps mishit shot fell kindly for Vincenti, and the recipient of Sky Bet’s first Unsung Hero of the Month award diverted the ball past Ben Williams to make it 1-1 at the break.
The second half started much quicker than the first, and it was the visitors who took the initiative, Cole and Evans being denied one-on-one chances by Josh Lillis.
However, the Dale stopper could do nothing to prevent Bradford taking the lead. Jim McNulty was robbed of the ball on the byline by Davies who cut the ball back. It ricocheted in the area before Cole nipped in to force the ball over the line.
Just moments later and the Bantams doubled their lead, through an own goal from Lancashire. Evans crossed from the left and the Dale centre back could only loop the ball over his goalkeeper as he tried to head clear.
It was a quick blitz in a dominant spell for Phil Parkinson’s men, who nearly made it four when Davies’ overhead kick went narrowly wide.
Keith Hill’s side faced an uphill to task to get anything from the game, and Andrew should have clawed one back quickly, but his volley from Tom Kennedy’s cross flew well over.
Matthew Lund, Lewis Alessandra and Nathaniel Mendez-Laing were introduced in a triple substitution, replacing Donal McDermott, Camps and Jamie Allen, as Dale looked for a way back into the contest.
Lund’s introduction help Dale gain more presence in the middle, and he had an effort well saved by Williams, before Andrew’s looping header had to be tipped over by the Bradford stopper for a corner.
Evans was denied by Lillis again in the final ten minutes after the midfielder had beaten a couple of Dale players, but Dale’s number one stood tall to deny him.
Dale battled until the end, with Lund’s excellent free-kick denied by Williams during the five minutes of added time the closest Dale came to clawing a goal back, as the game finished in defeat for Keith Hill’s side.
Dale: Lillis, Cannon, Lancashire, McNulty, Kennedy, Rafferty, Allen, Camps, McDermott, Vincenti, Andrew.
Subs: Diba, Eastham, Lund, Alessandra, Noble-Lazarus, Mendez-Laing, Bunney.
Bradford: Williams, Darby, Meredith, Evans, Liddle, Burke, Reid, McArdle, Davies, McMahon, Cole.
Subs: Jones, Clarke, Marshall, Hanson, Knott, Leigh, James.