ROTHERHAM United’s three-match winning run came to an end at the expense of Yorkshire rivals Bradford City, who ran out narrow victors at Valley Parade, in a feisty White Rose derby.
Romain Vincelot’s first half header proved the difference between the two sides as a defiant Colin Doyle between the home sticks and a wonderful goal line clearance by Matthew Kilgallon kept the Millers at bay.
Following their five-star performance against Walsall in midweek, Millers chief Paul Warne kept faith with his starting line-up for the short hop to West Yorkshire.
The only change within the Millers squad was Jonson Clarke-Harris was named as one of the striking options from the bench with David Ball ruled out because of illness.
In the early minutes, Ryan Williams’ slide-rule pass almost put Kieffer Moore, who shrugged off a groin injury to take his place at Valley Parade, in the clear but the in-form striker could not get the ball under his spell before Alex Gilliead blasted harmlessly over, at the other end.
Moments later, Moore tumbled under the clumsy challenge of Nathaniel Knight-Percival on the edge of the box and from the resultant inviting free-kick, Taylor fired a low effort under the Bradford wall but home ‘keeper Doyle was well-positioned to snuff out the danger.
In the next Millers’ attack, Taylor gave Joe Mattock the opportunity to drill a tantalising centre across the face of the home goal but Richie Towell could not control his shot as he fired into the home faithful behind the goal.
Minutes later, former Miller Nicky Law burst away from the heart of midfield before putting Dominic Poleon in the clear but the ex-Leeds striker struggled to get the ball from under his feet as Marek Rodak bravely blocked his low effort before Mattock scrambled the ball to safety.
Mattock was in the thick of the action and the Millers were indebted to the left-back for heading clear at the far post with Poleon on-hand to tap home Adam Chicksen’s dangerous cross before Vincelot became the first to see yellow for a scything tackle on Lee Frecklington.
From the resultant Taylor free-kick, Towell volleyed over when he should have done better before Bradford opened the scoring on 21 minutes when Chicksen’s initial cross caused havoc in the Millers defence and Tony McMahon latched onto the loose ball to deliver an inviting centre from the opposite flank which saw Vincelot ghost in between two visitors defenders to power a downward header from six-yards which flashed past Rodak in the Millers goal.
The hosts’ lead almost proved short-lived when Williams’ defence splitting pass saw Taylor bear down on goal and although Doyle saved his initial effort, the ex-Peterborough winger hooked the ball towards goal and with Moore looking to force the issue by tapping into the unguarded net, Matthew Kilgallon came from nowhere with a heroic last-ditch clearance from underneath his own crossbar to hack the ball clear.
In the next phase of play, Vaulks floated a cross which saw Richard Wood in an aerial duel with Doyle as Bradford scuffed the ball to safety before the no-nonsense Millers centre-half became the next player to incur the wrath of the referee with a hefty challenge on Poleon, which earned him a caution.
Minutes later, Darren Potter flashed an effort well wide of the target from distance before Michael Ihiekwe emerged from a ruck of bodies in the box to meet Will Vaulks’ free-kick but Doyle showed fleet of foot on his own line to smother the danger.
Gilliead could have no complaints in seeing yellow for pulling the shirt of Mattock before Rodak kept the Millers in the game at the interval for bravely saving at the feet of Poleon after fine work from Law and Gilliead had sliced open the Millers defence.
Half-time- Bradford City 1 Rotherham United 0
Following the interval, the Millers had the first sight of goal when Williams took aim from the edge of the box but Chicksen got in a timely block as the ball looped into the grateful hands of Doyle before the home stopper was called into action with a smart save, shortly after, when Towell was presented with the opportunity to strike and despite Moore in attendance, Doyle kept his nerve to collect on his own line.
In a whirlwind sixty seconds, Potter was on hand to clear the danger from his own line- although the referee had already blown for an infringement, before Frecklington looped a header, at the other end, which had Doyle nervously scurrying across goal as it flashed narrowly wide of the target.
Just before the hour mark, Mattock was cautioned for hauling back Gillead in full flow and after Knight-Percival dragged a long-range effort wide for the hosts, Taylor stung the palms of Doyle with a skimming drive from the edge of the box.
The Millers were looking the most likely and Towell had a piledriver blocked en-route to goal before Frecklington drilled a low effort which was arrowing towards goal but Knight-Percival put his body on the line to keep the ball out.
However, Bradford almost sealed the deal with twenty minutes remaining when Law superbly exchanged passes with Charlie Wyke to advance menacingly towards goal but a combination of Ihiekwe, Rodak and Vaulks, who eventually booted the ball to safety, prevented the former Rotherham United man from making it two.
Moments later, Rodak was forced to pluck Knight-Percival’s looping header out of the sky before the Millers penned the Bantams deep inside their own half in the latter stages of the game.
With the clock ticking down, Moore caused havoc in the home box and Frecklington’s tenacity gave sub Jonson Clarke-Harris, a sight of goal but Doyle blocked his goalbound effort – although any goal would have been ruled out for offside.
Rotherham frustration boiled over when Moore was booked for dissent before Kilgallon cynically hacked down sub Anthony Forde, as he looked to break clear, to earn a yellow card. The ex-Walsall winger failed to exact retribution from the resultant free-kick when he blazed over before Doyle saw yellow for time-wasting.
In the dying seconds, sub Joe Newell had a snap shot blocked by a determined home defence before the Millers’ afternoon took a further turn for the worst, as Mattock was sent for an early bath after receiving a second yellow-card for hauling down Gilliead near the touchline.
Full-time- Bradford City 1 Rotherham United 0
Teams:- Bradford- Doyle, Chicksen, Reeves, Kilgallon, Vincelot, Law (Thompson 82), Wyke, Poleon (Patrick 62), Gilliead, Knight-Percival, McMahon. Unused- Raeder, P Taylor, McCartan, Hendrie, Jones.
Rotherham- Rodak, Mattock, Vaulks, Wood, Frecklington, J Taylor (Forde 72), Potter, Towell (Clarke-Harris 80), Ihiekwe, Williams (Newell 62), Moore. Unused:- O’Donnell, Ajayi, Purrington, Yates.
Referee- J Simpson
Attendance- 20881 (1641)