ROTHERHAM United’s manager Paul Warne will definitely be feeling a tad better about things this morning.
Uncharacteristically cheerless and brooding after Rotherham’s bitterly disappointing FA Cup exit at Crewe on Saturday, last night’s events will have at least started to ease the pain a little.
On an evening when those in claret and amber with designs upon boosting their cause for regular starts did not take the hint, several wearing visiting shirts provided a more persuasive case in a slightly surreal, atmosphere-free occasion watched by the Bantams’ lowest attendance at Valley Parade for a competitive fixture – 931.
Speaking of records, there was at least another milestone of a more pleasant variety for the hosts, with defender Reece Staunton creating history by becoming the youngest player to represent Bradford at the age of 15 years, 332 days.
It beat the previous record, set by Bob Cullingford in April 1970, by 174 days.
It was a night when the shouts of both sets of players could be heard distinctly above the miniscule crowd, even the odd profanity, with the cheers from the small enclave of 48 Millers followers that greeted their three first-half goals barely audible.
It may have been yet another occasion that did nothing for the overall image of this much-derided competition – with some 19,950 more spectators attending the league game between these Yorkshire rivals in September – but for the visitors, at least, there was a positive hue.
After the deflation of Saturday, several Millers squad players provided a timely nudge in the direction of Warne, who will have got what he wanted from the exercise with his side’s hopes of making the next round of the competition also remaining just about intact.
For Jonson Clarke-Harris, in particular, it was a noteworthy night with the visiting forward claiming his first goal for the club since Boxing Day 2015, while striker partner Jerry Yates netted for just the third time for the Millers.
Richie Towell, linked with a move to City late on in the summer transfer window, struck a textbook third to seal victory on the stroke of half-time, with the second half a cosmetic exercise.
Already qualified for the next stage, the game may have possessed the look of a dead rubber for the hosts, but the issue of securing a home tie in the next round ensured that there was at least something at stake.
It never truly looked on from the moment that Yates steered a low shot past Rouven Sattelmaier on 17 minutes, with the ball diverted into his path following a muscular run from Clarke-Harris.
A ripple of applause greeted that strike and it was hardly a cacophony when Clarke-Harris slotted home the Millers’ second from the spot after Daniel Devine clumsily felled the Millers striker.
A sweet low strike from the impressive Towell topped off a dominant half and that was pretty much that on a disjointed night for the hosts, which only Staunton, fellow debutant Jake Maltby and young midfielder Jordan Gibson – again impressive – will look back at with much fondness.
Bradford City: Sattelmaier; Devine, Laird, Thompson, Robinson; Dieng (Maltby 82), Gibson, Pyrus, Patrick (Hudson 64); McCartan, Poleon (Staunton 74). Substitutes unused: Raeder, Hefele, Powell, Kirkpatrick.
Rotherham United: Price; Emmanuel, Onariase, Mattock, Hinds; Forde (McGinley 81), Wiles, Towell, Wiles, Taylor (Bray 62); Yates, Clarke-Harris (Kayode 74). Substitutes unused: O’Donnell, Ajayi, Warren, Francis.
Referee: R Lewis (Shropshire).