Doncaster Rovers 2-0 Bradford City Five Things: Marquis steals the show

John Marquis’ late brace gave Doncaster Rovers a 2-0 victory over out-of-form Bradford City on Monday night: here’s five things from the game.

Intricate Doncaster

Not for the first time this season, Darren Ferguson asked his Doncaster side to overload central areas and play cute one-touch football in tight spaces. Winger-turned-right-back Matty Blair therefore rarely had room to attack the byline while midfielder-turned-left-back Niall Mason used his right foot to play the ball inside, rather than outside. With other midfielders, Jordan Houghton and Luke McCullough, rarely occupying the vacant wide position, Donny’s play became congested. That trend suited Bradford, who operated with three centre-backs and at times three holding midfielders; Timothee Dieng, Nicky Law and Callum Guy intercepted plenty of loose balls in their defensive third.

McMahon’s deliveries

Simon Grayson’s side caused the more first half problems for the opposing goalkeeper; indeed, stopper Marko Marosi needed bailing out on 10 minutes by Joe Wright, when the centre-back cleared Dieng’s header off the line. That moment, like most of Bradford’s better ones, came about from a ball into the box from Tony McMahon, whose 17th minute delivery was headed goalward by Romain Vincelot; Marosi was at least there on that occasion.

Wright decision?

Doncaster’s two half-chances in the opening period had fallen to Wright following James Coppinger set pieces, but the former Huddersfield man was off-target with both headers. The centre-back was involved again on 62 minutes, when Bantams substitute Joel Grodowski cut inside and went under his challenge in the box, but referee Darren Handley was unmoved. Forward Grodowski, who moments earlier chipped over the bar after some good work from the bright Tyrell Robinson, briefly impacted proceedings, but it was Ferguson’s change that proved telling.

Fergie’s changes

It is easier for right-footed players to deliver quality crosses from the right than from the left and that became evident once Mason moved position; he put in a wonderful 75th minute ball to allow Marquis to get ahead of centre-back Matt Kilgallon and head home. The rash positioning of Kilgallon’s partner, Nat Knight-Percival, had long gone unpunished due to the disciplined midfielders in front of him, but Doncaster relished the extra space after the opener. Alfie Beestin, who impressed after replacing Alex Kiwomya, marked his return from injury by teeing up Marquis for a deserved second in added time. This wasn’t a vintage performance from Doncaster, but Ferguson’s subtle changes were key to the victory that takes them seven points clear of the relegation zone.

Bradford plummet

A staggering eighth defeat of 2018, meanwhile, leaves Bradford City seven points adrift of the play-off places and their second half performance revealed a side lacking in confidence. The main reason for that might be the absence of a clear identity: a lot of players didn’t look comfortable playing possession football yet equally, they lacked the physicality up top to play direct. While they created the odd chance when powerful players like Vincelot and Dieng got into the box, they offered nowhere near enough in open play. Target man Charlie Wyke’s return from suspension will help their cause, but on this evidence, Grayson has a side that is some way off the division’s elite.