Rotherham United 2 (Smith 22, Newell 57)
Bradford City 0
Tuesday 23rd January 2018 | Sky Bet League One | AESSEAL New York Stadium
The Bantams fell to defeat on the road at the hands of an in-form Rotherham United side. City started the game well backed by over 1,500 travelling supporters but fell behind to a Michael Smith header, and from there on in it was an uphill challenge. It looked as if Stuart McCall's men would get themselves back into the game with a bright start to the second period but Joe Newell slammed his side into an ultimately telling two-goal lead just before the hour mark.
The scorer of the opening goal Smith had recently joined the Millers from League One rivals Bury and he connected with an Anthony Forde cross to head towards goal only to see his attempt held onto by Rouven Sattelmaier.
City had the ball in the net shortly afterwards as a powerful Callum Guy cross took a deflection and beat Marek Rodak at the near post but the linesman's flag was up to chalk the goal off - it seems the ball had gone out of play on it's way to the Rotherham goal.
Smith spurned another headed opportunity after latching onto David Ball's centre before Forde and Romain Vincelot failed to hit the target with hopeful shots from distance. The Bantams were certainly asking questions of the home defence and Paul Taylor and Nicky Law both went close before the Millers took the lead.
The home side had a clear height advantage and this proved an advantageous factor as Smith, the tallest man on the pitch, was the one who latched onto Forde's free-kick delivery to plant a header past Sattelmaier from close range.
The opening goal going to United was a blow to City who had arguably been the better side in the first quarter of the game and then the hosts went close to doubling their lead just after going ahead with Smith going close again shortly after the lively Paul Taylor had rocketed a shot just wide down the other end of the field.
Before the half was out, there was still time for one more chance for the Bantams. Timothee Dieng opted not to try and thread a pass through to Tyrell Robinson who had marauded forward to his left and instead he cut inside onto his right foot before curling a shot inches wide of the post with Rodak at full stretch.
Attacking the away fans in the second half, City came out of the traps with a bit between their teeth and Charlie Wyke forced Rodak into an uncomfortable looking save. Taylor was the next to force Rodak into action with a powerful angled drive after being picked out by Romain Vincelot and you could sense an air of positivity and optimism with the majority of the second half still to be played.
Just before the hour Rotherham doubled their lead and it was a goal which knocked the stuffing out of Stuart McCall's men. Smith latched onto Richie Towell's cross to force a save from Sattelmaier with downward header and the rebound fell kindly to Joe Newell who slammed the rebound into the back of the net.
The confidence levels of the home side raised significantly as they took complete control of the game and the Bantams struggled to retaliate to a rampant Rotherham side at this stage. Newell himself had a couple of half chances at doubling his tally soon afterwards; first a cross-shot fizzed just wide of the post before seeing an angled drive kept out by the legs of Sattelmaier.
It was all Rotherham in the final quarter of the game and they continued to search for goals. Smith went close with a header in what was a near identical set-play to the one he scored from in the first half. Anthony Forde was the net to head the ball wide but in doing so, he collided with Tyrell Robinson who was forced off with an injury - his departure from the field left City down to ten men with all three changes already made.
Into a healthy five minutes of added time, Rotherham went close through a Will Vaulks rocket before Sattelmaier denied substitute Jonson Clarke-Harris with a smart low stop. Time had ran out on the Bantams who despite having their bright patches in the game, ultimately endured a difficult evening in South Yorkshire.