Match analysis: Doncaster Rovers 0 Bradford City 3

A dejected Andy Butler cannot look as Bradford's players celebrate with coaching staff. Picture: Andrew Roe

A dejected Andy Butler cannot look as Bradford's players celebrate with coaching staff. Picture: Andrew Roe

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Rovers were winded by Bradford City to leave them gasping for air in the race for the play-offs.

Rovers arguably had the better of a keenly-fought first half.

Bradford's Gary MacKenzie opens the scoring

Bradford's Gary MacKenzie opens the scoring

But second half goals in quick succession from Gary MacKenzie and Billy Clarke completely took the wind out of Doncaster’s sails, before Tony McMahon added a third in stoppage time.

Rovers’ second half capitulation leaves them seven points adrift of sixth-placed Chesterfield ahead of their trip to Sheffield United on Tuesday.

The Spireites’ comeback win at Yeovil earlier in the day had cranked up the pressure on both Rovers and Bradford with games fast running out.

So unsurprisingly the game started at a frantic pace, although the early exchanges were high on enthusiasm and low on quality.

Andy Butler streches to keep the ball in play against Bradford's Filipe Morais

Andy Butler streches to keep the ball in play against Bradford's Filipe Morais

In fact the only chance of the first half of the first half came within 30 seconds when Jonson Clarke-Harris got on the end of Harry Forrester’s cross from the left but his shot on the turn went inches wide.

With both sides rather cancelling each other out, Rovers had a good case for a penalty when Clarke-Harris appeared to be barged in the back by Stephen Darby but referee Graham Salisbury was not interested.

City enjoyed their best spell just before the half hour. James Hanson headed wide after Filipe Morais got to the by-line and picked him out. The Bantams, briefly, applied a bit of pressure.

However, Rovers quickly responded in kind. Forrester saw an effort from distance deflected just wide before James Coppinger wasted a good opening after being picked out by Richie Wellens, who was becoming more an influence on the game.

And it was Rovers that went closest to breaking the deadlock on the stroke of half time when Curtis Main struck the bar with an audacious effort from the edge of the box.

In contrast to the first, the second period began at walking pace. But on 55 minutes Bradford seized the initiative through MacKenzie who prodded home following a goalmouth scramble. It was a goal that could and should have been avoided after both Enda Stevens and Main had fluffed earlier opportunities to clear.

The goal clearly galvanised the Bantams and Stephen Bywater was quickly forced into a stunning save from point blank range to deny Billy Knott.

But it wasn’t long before the visitors doubled their lead. A ball out from the back sliced open Rovers’ backline, Hanson initially tried to outpace Luke McCullough before teeing up Clarke who smashed it past Bywater.

Nathan Tyson, Kyle Bennett and young striker Liam Mandeville were all introduced for Rovers, the latter for his league debut.

But the goals had knocked the proverbial stuffing out of the home side, Mandeville’s brief cameo the only highlight of a damaging second half collapse which was capped by McMahon’s cool finish after he raced clear in injury time.