AT THE start of the new season, there is almost a surfeit of expectation, an insatiable desire to make an immediate impact - quite often for a new club - and adrenalin levels can be overly high.
That was the case at the newly-named University of Bradford Stadium.
A moment of recklessness arrived from one visiting player and plain stupidity came from another at the end of the first half to sour this Yorkshire derby.
It is to Doncaster Rovers’ credit that their team-mates on the pitch in the second half kept their heads to claim an unlikely, but deserved point, with some far more impressive defensive application.
The first big moment arrived seven minutes in. Liam Ravenhill - son of former Doncaster Rovers and Bradford City midfielder Ricky - caught Emmanuel Osadebe with a very heavy tackle, which resulted in a lengthy eight-minute stoppage time amid very worrying scenes as a stretcher was called for and he was attended to by medics.
Some team-mates, including Romoney Crichlow, looked visibly distressed. The loanee had to sit on his own for a minute to compose himself after what he had seen, with Osadebe eventually stretchered off with the blue lights of an ambulance seen not long after with the odds being on the debutant having suffered a serious leg injury ahead of being tended to in hospital.
It affected the flow of the game in truth for the rest of the first half, with Ravenhill, who controversially received a booking and not a red card from referee Robert Madden, making his ‘debut’ south of the border after his time officiating in his native Scotland, sensibly substituted not long after amid a cascade of boos from home fans.
Madden did show a red card in the fifth minute of stoppage-time after a brain explosion from Lee Tomlin, making his Rovers bow, made the visitors’ task considerably harder.
Tomlin stopped a free-kick being taken quickly and was cautioned after the ball was kicked away. He then threatically reacted to the gentlest of nudges from Ryan East. Madden had clearly seen enough and Tomlin departed.
In terms of goalmouth incident, there had been little until then. Jonathan Mitchell kept out Lee Angol’s cross-shot and a key saving challenge from Matty Platt got in the way of a shot from ex-Bantams loanee George Miller which was otherwise destined for the net.
Rovers, who ‘subbed a sub’ with Jack Degruchy replaced at half-time, switched to a 4-4-1 in the second half, with Josh Andrews up top on his own.
It looked like being a long old second-half. Jamie Walker fired a good early chance into the side-netting, but the opportunities never really flowed.
At the other end, alertness from Harry Lewis prevented Joseph Olowu from putting Rovers ahead from Adam Clayton’s corner before Smallwood’s free-kick agonisingly failed to break the deadlock after hitting the post.
Rovers, in the main, defended stoically, led by centre-halves Ro-Shaun Williams and Olowu.
Although then needed Mitchell, who turned away a shot from Kian Harratt soon after he entered the fray.
City emptied their bench, but there was no way past Rovers’ red wall.
After the game, City loanee Kian Harratt was shown a red card - after an altercation with Rovers goalkeeper Johnny Mitchell.
Bradford City: Lewis, Halliday (Chapman 68), Platt, Crichlow, Ridehalgh; East (Cook 81), Smallwood; Osadebe (Sutton 14), Walker, Angol (Harratt 68); Oliver. Substitutes unused: Doyle, Songo'o, Foulds.
Doncaster Rovers: Mitchell; Knoyle, Williams, Olowu, Maxwell; Clayton, Ravenhill (Degruchy 15 (Andrews 45)); Tomlin, Biggins (Long 90), Hurst (Anderson 82), Miller. Substitutes unused: Jones, Agard, Faulkner.
Referee: R Madden (Scotland)
Attendance: 19,368 (1,971 Doncaster supporters).