Bradford City 2 (Wyke 18, Knight-Percival 42)
Doncaster Rovers 0
Saturday 30 September 2017 | Sky Bet League One | Northern Commercials Stadium
Stuart McCall's Bantams will have probably played better on occasion this season, but City were able to return to winning ways this Saturday afternoon in their second home fixture against Doncaster Rovers. The South Yorkshire club were successful in the first week of the season as they progressed in the Carabao Cup, but two first half headers gave the Bantams revenge. City weren't on top form for most of the fixture, but headers from Charlie Wyke and Nathaniel Knight-Percival gave McCall’s side a victory to keep up a bright start to the season.
Doncaster started the game on the front foot, although the first chance of the game came to City despite all of the visitors’ control of the early possession. Tony McMahon was making his 100th appearance for the club and after he was fouled, his free-kick delivery into the box was headed over the bar by Charlie Wyke.
It was only a matter of time before the visitors got a chance but Nathaniel Knight-Percival had to make an important preventing clearance to stop John Marquis having the opportunity to tap the ball in from close range after Tommy Rowe’s scuffed shot had made its way towards him.
Marquis was Rovers’ leading marksman in last year’s promotion campaign and his first chance did come just moments later. City failed to clear their lines on a surface that had become slightly greasy following some rain prior to kick off and the Doncaster number nine saw a deflected attempt held onto by Colin Doyle.
Charlie Wyke was to open the scoring but he threatened with his presence in the six-yard box just minutes earlier. Alex Gilliead got the better of Harry Toffolo down the right-hand side and his delivery was heading for Wyke before Rodney Kongolo made a vital challenge to force a corner with the Bantams frontman looking to find the net.
Alfie May was a lively outlet for Darren Ferguson’s side and shortly after forcing Doyle into a save, he caused Matthew Kilgallon a moment of trouble before seeing a dangerous low cross turned onto the outside of his own post by City skipper Romain Vincelot.
May tried to win his team a penalty just moments before City took the lead. Toffolo played a lofted pass in behind for him to run onto and he looked to get goal side of Nathaniel Knight-Percival before throwing himself to the ground under the merest of shoulder to shoulder challenge; a meek appeal which was turned down by the referee, Anthony Backhouse.
The opening goal did come and Adam Chicksen was the provider with an excellent cross from the left-hand side. His delivery found Charlie Wyke unmarked inside the box and he calmly steered a header past Rovers’ stand-in stopper Marko Marosi and into the bottom corner.
Two minutes later, Wyke thought he had his second but it was chalked off. McMahon’s corner was looped towards goal by the head of Kilgallon and the ball was scrambled in from a yard out by Wyke but the referee spotted a foul on Marosi under pressure on his line to try and somehow get the ball clear of his goal.
Doncaster appealed in vain for a penalty five minutes later. Niall Mason picked out the run of Marquis who got goal side of Knight-Percival, but involved in controversy once again the referee deemed that the City defender’s challenge was a fair one, much to the anger of Marquis and the visiting manager, Darren Ferguson.
Marquis saw a shot skew wide of the target down one end of the pitch before Romain Vincelot appealed for a penalty down the other end after he was felled following a challenge by Rodney Kongolo. The referee again wasn’t interested in blowing the whistle and pointing to the penalty spot on this occasion.
The Bantams perhaps didn’t look two goals better than their opponents going into the break but the second goal did come and it was Nathaniel Knight-Percival on the scoresheet for the first time since the opening day victory against Blackpool. McMahon was once again the provider and Knight-Percival powered a header into the bottom corner.
The second half started at an incredible tempo with both sides looking for a goal, City to put the game beyond any real doubt and Rovers to bring themselves back into the contest. Doncaster had the first chance of the half within seconds of the restart; May latched onto Marquis’ pass before seeing a shot from a tight angle kept out excellently by Doyle.
Seconds later down the other end of the pitch, Dominic Poleon had the chance to create a three-goal cushion when he was played in one-on-one with the keeper by Paul Taylor. The battle of the wits was won on this occasion by Marosi who made an important stop to keep his team in the game.
Doncaster looked to have the bit between their teeth in search for a goal and Doyle made a trio of saves to keep them at bay. Toffolo’s low drive from distance was held and he then held onto Ben Whiteman’s curling shot before standing strong to keep hold of a Tommy Rowe downward header after he connected with Niall Mason’s cross into the box.
Rovers continued to look to get as many shots away as they possibly could with the clock very much against them. The visiting skipper Andy Butler stayed forward from the back and the ball broke his way after Kongolo and Chicksen had contested initially; his curling left-footed shot though, going narrowly wide of the post.
Experienced midfielder James Coppinger was brought on as a substitute and one of his first involvements was to try a shot from distance; his attempt threatened and it had to be diverted narrowly over the crossbar by Knight-Percival
City never really got going at all in attacking sense in the second half, but they were standing strong as visitors continued to pile on the pressure at the other end. Alex Gilliead was in the right place at the right time on the line to make a block with his chest after Rowe had connected with Coppinger’s corner to head the ball towards goal.
McMahon scored the winner at Northampton with a free kick last weekend and on his century of appearances for the club he almost added a late third, but his free kick was held onto alertly by Marosi after Vincelot was fouled by Rovers midfielder Ben Whiteman. Not pretty by the Bantams for large parts of the game, but the most important stat is the two goals leading to the three points. Stuart McCall’s men bouncing back from the mid-week defeat to Fleetwood Town.