ROTHERHAM UNITED breezed into the FA Cup second round as they put Yorkshire rivals Bradford City to the sword with a minimum of fuss at the New York Stadium.
In a feisty White Rose derby, Kieran Agard broke the deadlock to put Steve Evans’ men in control at the interval before Alex Revell doubled their lead just past the hour mark.
Agard’s eighth goal of the season put the icing on the cake for the Millers, who continued their recent winning run against Phil Parkinson’s side.
Following their disappointing home draw with Colchester United last weekend, the Millers made one change to their starting line-up with skipper Craig Morgan returning at the heart of the home defence following suspension at the expense of Pablo Mills, who dropped to the bench.
The home side had the first sight of goal when Lee Frecklington released Matt Tubbs, who worked a yard of space before firing a low drive which was blocked by a retreating Matthew Bates.
From the resultant bullet throw from Kari Arnason, the visitors only half-cleared and Michael O’Connor pounced on the loose ball before firing an effort from distance which failed to trouble Jon McLaughlin.
The home side were looking the most likely and they stunned the large travelling contingent by breaking the deadlock on 12 minutes.
O’Connor had a free-kick returned to his path and the Northern Ireland international swung over a tantalising delivery which was met by the head of Revell, who knocked down invitingly for Agard, to sweep the ball into the heart of the goal from point-blank range.
In Bradford’s first attack of note, James Meredith’s inviting centre saw James Hanson challenge Adam Collin to bundle the ball into the home goal but any joy was tempered as the referee adjudged he had climbed illegally.
Moments later, Tubbs’ showed good invention to fire a shot with his in-step wide of the target before Mark Bradley got on the receiving end of a clever knockdown from Arnason in the next phase of play but his tame effort was comfortably gathered by McLaughlin.
The home side came within a whisker of doubling their advantage when firstly an innocuous ball forward fortunately ricocheted off a Bradford defender into the advancing run of Tubbs, who drilled a low drive which forced McLaughlin into a smart save before the visitors’ had the ex-Harrogate Town ‘keeper to thank again moments later when Pringle’s outswinging centre saw Revell tower above his marker before powering a superb header which forced a superb one-handed save at point-blank range from McLaughlin.
Just past the half-hour, Kyel Reid and Meredith exchanged passes on the left flank and Reid got the better of Bradley before playing a slide rule pass into the path of Nahki Wells, who fired a snap effort which forced Collin into save low to his right before the ball squirmed to safety.
Minutes later, Bradley became the first player to see yellow for cynically pulling back Reid as the Bantams’ looked to break quickly before Rotherham wasted an opportunity to extend their lead just shy of the interval when Nathan Doyle’s error presented Revell with an unchallenged run on goal but the home targetman fluffed his lines as McLaughlin parried the ball to safety as he looked to round him.
In stoppage time, Joe Skarz was yellow-carded as he tackled Raffaele De Vita from behind before the referee brought the first-half to a close.
Half-time:- Rotherham United 1 Bradford City 0
The visitors were quick out of the blocks following the restart and Hanson’s flick on released Wells, who looked to toe poke past the on-rushing Collin, but the Bermudan failed to make contact.
Just shy of the hour mark, Collin kept his nerve to snuff out a dangerous Reid centre before Tubbs screwed an effort well wide of the target at the other end.
Rory McArdle became the first visitors’ player to see yellow for tugging down Tubbs on the edge of the box and the Millers’ punished the visitors to the full from the resultant free-kick.
O’Connor was again the architect when he curled a superb centre to the front post and Revell nipped infront of his marker just inside the six-yard box to direct the ball into the corner of the goal.
The home side were sniffing blood and Stephen Darby was well-stationed to snuff out a tantalising centre from Revell before the referee waved away home appeals for a spot-kick moments later when McArdle appeared to bundle over Tubbs in the box.
However, the home side effectively booked their place in the second round hat when they added a third with 20 minutes remaining.
Following a period of pressure, O’Connor floated a outswinging centre which saw Agard hang in the air before looping a header which beat of the outstretched hand of McLaughlin before nesting into the net.
With the tie over as a contest, sub Mark Yeates stung the palms of Collin with a bobbled drive before visitors’ skipper Gary Jones blasted over from distance.
Hanson then bundled a far post header narrowly wide of the target before Yeates had Collin nervously scrambling across goal with a curling free-kick from distance moments later.
Full-time:- Rotherham United 3 Bradford City 0
Teams:- Rotherham- Collin, Bradley (Brindley 84), Arnason, Morgan, Skarz, Frecklington, O’Connor (Milsom 76), Pringle (Tidser 89), Agard, Tubbs, Revell. Unused:- Shearer, Davis, Mills, Nardiello.
Bradford- McLaughlin, Darby, Meredith, Reid, Hanson, Jones, De Vita (Yeates 63), Wells (McBurnie 82) Bates, McArdle, Doyle (Kennedy 74). Unused:- Ripley, Thompson, Taylor, McHugh.
Referee:- J Adcock
Attendance:- 7667 (2138).