Doncaster 0 Bradford 1: Cole’s quickfire strike shows up huge flaw Ferguson must address

Devante Cole wheels away in delight after scoring in the first minute of the match for Bradford City against Doncaster (Pictures: Tony Johnson).
Devante Cole wheels away in delight after scoring in the first minute of the match for Bradford City against Doncaster (Pictures: Tony Johnson).
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IF DARREN Ferguson did not know much about his Doncaster Rovers side before, you can bet your bottom dollar he will have known a whole lot more by Saturday tea-time.

Watching on in the East Stand with his No 2 Gavin Strachan, Ferguson will have been forgiven for scribbling furiously on a piece of paper or two.

New Doncaster Rovers' manager Darren Ferguson pictured at Saturday's defeat by Bradford City.

New Doncaster Rovers' manager Darren Ferguson pictured at Saturday's defeat by Bradford City.

The display afforded him plenty of food for thought for his drive back to his home in deepest Lincolnshire before starting work the next day.

Rovers reside in 23rd position in League One.

Never mind all the talk about an impending bleak winter, the chill has already set in and Ferguson’s in-tray is full to the brim.

For City manager Phil Parkinson, there was justifiable contentment, his due diligence paying off as his organised side delivered a sound away-day showing that exposed Rovers’ shortcomings. Of which there were several.

The worry beads certainly all belong to Rovers.

Flaky in the heart of defence, lacking pace in midfield, and minus potency or belief in the final third: it is in danger of becoming a toxic cocktail.

It might well be a case of getting worse before it gets better.

Rovers, who have scored one away goal this season and have not won on their travels since April 14, now face a triple header on the road at Shrewsbury, Peterborough and Millwall. Welcome to the job, Darren.

For Rob Jones, who picked the Rovers side for the last time after co-ordinating training and tactics last week, with Ferguson taking a watching brief, it was another afternoon of frustration. And he has had a few.

The angst arrived within the first 50 seconds with the man who Bradford fans call indestructible in Devante Cole showing predatory traits of which his father would have been proud in converting a poacher’s goal from close in. For Rovers, more a case of inscrutable.

Jones has now passed on the baton to Ferguson, who oversaw training for the first time yesterday and is assigned with ensuring Rovers’ discover their mojo.

On his final outing on the touchline, Jones rued: “You can’t keep gifting teams goals. It was a nightmare first minute.

“We had a lot of possession, but our final ball let us down. Two shots on target at home is not good enough.

“It is always a shock when you start so slowly and at the minute this is a group that grows into games.

“In our past three home games, we have grown into games really strongly and finished positively.

“But you cannot keep giving goals away. We have caught foul of that many times this season.”

Bradford were not brilliant, but did not need to be. However, they were organised, tenacious, resilient and together and sides who limit home opposition to just a couple of serious efforts on goal cannot be doing much wrong. And grafting out a 1-0 win on your travels is what it is all about at this level.

City’s collectivism was personified by Tony McMahon, a defender doing a fair old job in midfield for the team cause.

After his maiden goal for Bradford in the 3-0 victory at Rovers on Good Friday, McMahon went close to a second strike for the claret and amber with a sweetly struck second-half free-kick, which flew agonisingly just wide.

But for McMahon, it is all about team and not self as City became the first side to take three points from Doncaster since performing that feat over Easter.

And having won back-to-back away games, it is now about addressing that Achilles heel of home form, with successive matches against Bury and Wigan coming up.

McMahon said: “We looked at that table before the game and it’s not where we want to be. We knew we had to get three points and I thought everyone stood up to the battle and we got a great result and it’s on to Tuesday now.

“Home form has not been good enough and we will all hold our hands up and say that.

“We have had good performances, but not a complete performance at home. We have hit fits and starts and good 45 minutes and a good hour. But we have conceded sloppy goals, which is not good enough on our part.”

The game-breaking moment arrived inside the first minute when Cole reacted quickest after Rory McArdle won the air miles following Lee Evans’s long throw to turn the ball home. City were not unduly troubled for the rest of the game, with the hosts’ chief moment of danger arriving on 23 minutes when Richard Chaplow’s corner was not cleared. Keshi Anderson hooked the loose ball against the bar with the effort seeming to go over the line before he followed up to punch the ball home, with the effort ruled out for handball.

But aside from an acrobatic shot from Andy Williams which was turned away by the generally underemployed Ben Williams, it was City who possessed the threat with Kyel Reid, Evans and McMahon going close to a second.

For Ferguson, there is an awful lot to do alright.