Stoke's boardroom troubles, poor form and live television courage all contributed to a small crowd at the Britannia Stadium for the Nationwide First Division match, but the Potters did not let the muted atmosphere undermine their determination to get over last week's 7-0 thrashing by Birmingham.
Ray Wallace drilled a shot inches over, while Thorne and his strike partner Marco Gabbiadini made a lively start, but about 2,000 Stoke fans missed the early action because they stayed outside for the first 15 minutes in a protest against the club's directors.
They had only six minutes to wait to see a goal, but it came at the wrong end for them. Eddie Youds flicked on Peter Beagrie's corner and John McGinlay headed Bradford into the lead.
Falling behind posed a stern test for Stoke but they showed plenty of spirit and equalised with a 34th-minute penalty by Richard Forsyth after Andrew O'Brien handled at a corner.
Their tails up, Stoke took the lead shortly before the interval when Thorne made a diagonal run in from the left, was picked out by Kevin Keen's pass, and held off his marker to score a fine goal with a low, right-foot shot.
The home side held off Bradford's efforts to fight back in the second half and sent their fans home happy for a change.
Stoke City: Muggleton; Pickering, Griffin, Sigurdsson, Tweed, Keen, Forsyth, Wallace, Thorne, Gabbiadini (McMahon 77), Whittle. Substitutes not used: MacKenzie, Stewart.
Bradford City: Walsh; Wilder, Small (Bolland 77), Murray, Youds, O'Brien, Lawrence (Edinho 69), McGinlay, Jacobs, Blake, Beagrie. Substitute not used: Steiner.
Referee: R Pearson (Peterlee).Reuse content