Doncaster Rovers count the cost of Covid-19 disruption in friendly defeat at Bradford City

A slog of an afternoon was always likely and so it proved as threadbare Doncaster Rovers suffered a 2-0 defeat in their friendly at Bradford City.

Saturday, 17th July 2021, 5:40 pm
Valley Parade

A total of 11 trialists were used by Richie Wellens - six invited specifically for this game - as he patched up a squad ravaged by the impact of a single case of Covid-19 in the camp.

And it resulted in a rather disjointed performance across both halves, with Bradford leaving no doubt over which was the more settled outfit.

A first half penalty from the lively Abo Eisa and a fine finish from Andy Cook after the break gave the Bantams the victory at Valley Parade.

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Rovers lacked attacking threat throughout the game, with a raft of changes at half time failing to spark them into life.

Trialists Aramide Oteh and Aidan Barlow - who both netted in the previous friendly at Rossington Main - made up a front three with Ed Williams, who has been told to find another club by boss Richie Wellens.

Owen Bailey, Tunji Akinola and Charlie Colkett were also given more minutes by Wellens in the first half, along with another trialist with a decent amount of League One experience.

Tom Anderson returned from injury into the back line but there was a distinct lack of senior contracted players due to the brush with Covid-19, with only Louis Jones, Tommy Rowe, Ben Close and Williams lining up alongside the skipper.

Rovers started well and dominated the ball in the early stages.

But they found themselves behind after 11 minutes when Akinola brought down Eisa, who stepped up to smash in from the spot.

Bradford established somewhat of a grip on proceedings afterwards.

Jones pulled off an excellent save from Ollie Crankshaw at close range while Cook scuffed a tame effort at the Rovers keeper.

Positives came in the work of Rowe and Close on the left, as the lack of coherency in the side elsewhere was highlighted.

The two interchanged superbly, with Rowe pushing extremely high up the pitch from full back.

And it was through Rowe that the best chance of the half came when he curled a cross along the six yard line, just out of the reach of the onrushing Barlow and Oteh.

Half time brought six changes with only Jones, Bailey, Colkett and Oteh and the unnamed trialist remaining on the pitch. AJ Greaves and Branden Horton joined a new influx of trialists - including former Leicester City youngster Darnell Johnson - in taking to the field.

Though there were patches of decent play, Rovers were largely second best, certainly in terms of link-up play and control.

Cook extended Bradford’s advantage ten minutes into the second half when he latched onto a pass from Crankshaw and curled in off the post.

Ben Bottomley came off the bench to make a couple of smart saves in the later stages but positives for Rovers were difficult to come by in a game that was one to put to bed quickly.

Rovers: First half: Jones; Bailey, Akinola, Anderson, Rowe; Colkett, Trialist, Close; Williams, Oteh, Barlow.

Second half: Jones (Bottomley 73); Bailey (Trialist 65), Johnson, Trialist, Horton; Colkett (Ravenhill 65), Greaves, Trialist; Trialist, Oteh (Hasani 65), Trialist.

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