ROTHERHAM UNITED endured a largely frustrating evening as they were held to a goalless draw with Bradford City.
Steve Evans’ men found the Bantams a tough nut to crack infront of the Sky cameras as Phil Parkinson’s side broke their Rotherham hoodoo following six successive defeats against the Millers to take them a point closer to League One safety.
Following their heartbreaking defeat at the hands of local rivals Sheffield United in midweek, the Millers made two changes to their starting line-up with Northern Ireland international Michael O’Connor making a return to the Millers engine room as Rob Milsom dropped to the bench.
Recent recruit Nicky Adams was also recalled at the expense of QPR loanee Tom Hitchcock as top-scorer Kieran Agard reverted to his striking berth partnering Alex Revell.
The visitors had the first sight of goal when Joe Skarz dallied in possession and Kyle Bennett robbed him of the ball before firing a harmless effort wide of the target.
The home side were struggling to find their usual fluency but in their first foray of note, Adams’ threaded ball found Revell, who turned smartly before firing a skimming drive from distance which stung the palms of Jon McLaughlin.
Just shy of the quarter hour, Gary Jones and Bennett combined smartly to give Jon Stead the opportunity to fire a weak effort which was comfortably gathered by Adam Collin before the ex-Blackburn striker was in the thick of the action moments later when he latched onto Andrew Davies’ flick-on but he volleyed over when he should have done better.
At the other end, Craig Morgan floated a delicate centre which was cushioned by Revell into the path of the advancing O’Connor, who flashed a low drive which struck Agard en-route to goal before being diverted to safety.
The Millers’ came within a whisker of the breakthrough when O’Connor’s eye-of-a-needle pass found Ben Pringle, who curled a delightful effort which forced McLaughlin into an acrobatic save but his parry fell invitingly for the on-rushing Revell, who failed to turn the ball goalwards despite the goal gaping.
The home side were starting to find their feet and moments later, James Tavernier ‘s clever inside pass paved the way for Adams to work a yard of space on his marker before drilling an effort across the face of goal.
Just past the half hour, fine interplay from the home side gave Agard a glimpse of goal and he flashed an effort across the danger area but Revell was agonisingly inches away from making contact before the Bantams had Davies to thank for keeping the scores level moments later following a last-ditch block as Agard looked to shoot goalwards.
Adam Drury became the first to see yellow when he needlessly hauled down Adams in full flow before Revell screwed a header wide of the target following O’Connor’s corner in the last play of the half.
Half-time:- Rotherham United 0 Bradford City 0
Following the restart, the Millers came within inches of making the breakthrough when Revell was flattened and from the resultant free-kick, O’Connor curled an inviting centre which missed the on-rushing Millers’ runners before smashing against the upright before Adams’ low drive was deflected wide by Jones.
From the resultant corner, Pringle’s quick thinking gave Richard Smallwood a shooting opportunity from the edge of the box but he fluffed his lines with a dragged effort.
At the other end, Reach hoicked an effort wide of the target following Bennett’s centre before the ex-Norwich winger tormented Kari Arnason moments later to fire a rasping effort from the edge of the box which narrowly cleared the home crossbar.
With the game in the balance, Reach got the better of Tavernier and Morgan before drilling a low effort which was blocked by the legs of Collin before Revell got a free header from Morgan’s punt forward to pave the way for Pringle to fire goalwards but McLaughlin was well-positioned to snuff out the danger.
Just past the hour mark, sub Haris Vuckic almost made an immediate impact when his slide-rule ball saw Tavernier cut inside Reach to advance into the box but his shot lacked venom as McLaughlin collected smartly.
Minutes later, Pringle pounced on the loose ball after Bradford failed to clear decisively but his scuffed cross was inches away from the outstretched foot of Agard before the home side missed a golden opportunity to open the scoring.
Skarz’s chipped cross was perfectly cushioned by Revell into the path of Vuckic, who controlled smartly before advancing menacingly on goal but despite only having McLaughlin to beat, the ex-Newcastle loanee executed a delicate chip which cleared the bar when it looked easier to score.
The Slovenian international was in the thick of the action as he tried his luck from distance but he failed to trouble McLaughlin before Tavernier’s hopeful pass almost fell kindly for Agard but the visitors’ keeper was quick off his line to clear the danger.
With full-time approaching, the Millers wasted a gilt-edged chance in the dying minutes to snatch the points when Pringle’s pinpoint corner saw Arnason ghost in unnoticed but the Icelandic international blazed his header over from point-blank range despite looking a certain scorer.
Full-time:- Rotherham United 0 Bradford City 0
Teams:- Rotherham- Collin, Tavernier, Arnason, Morgan, Skarz, Adams (Vuckic 63), Smallwood, O’Connor, Pringle, Revell, Agard. Unused:- Shearer, Brindley, Davis, Milsom, Thomas, Hitchcock.
Bradford- McLaughlin, Darby, Dolan (De Vita 77), Davies, Drury, Stead, Jones, McArdle, Doyle, Reach, Bennett (Thompson 90). Unused:- Barker, Yeates, McHugh, Bates, McBurnie
Referee:- D Webb
Attendance:- 9228 (1115).