Doncaster Rovers 1 Bradford City 3: Ominous Bantams win on all fronts to leave injury-hit Rovers in need of a busy January

On the Friday before Christmas there were some high-quality League Two strikers on show at Doncaster Rovers.

But Bradford City not only won the battle of the strikers and came out on top of the terraces, most importantly they had the best players backing up a front two who supplied all three of their goals.

Joe Ironside had set the ball rolling with a goal which combined determination and skill to put Rovers in front and Mo Faal regularly dropped off him and into midfield to eye-catching effect. At the other end, Andy Cook scored twice but showed there is more to his game too than just goals, turning creator for Tyler Smith.

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It all added up to a 3-1 win which ended up being pretty comfortable.

Once Cook was into his stride, Bradford took control of the game and the sixth straight win that had looked in a bit of doubt early on became something of a formality.

Beset as they are by injuries, Doncaster look to be in need of another busy January transfer window. For once it looks like Bradford can have a quiet New Year.

On the back of a 5-0 pasting which led to a change of goalkeeper and up against a side who had won their last five, it was of course Doncaster who took the lead, Ironside showing the full range of his qualities.

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Good though the goal was from his perspective, it was a bit of a Christmas gift from Bradford, Brad Halliday playing a backpass near to the corner flag on his old stomping ground and Harry Lewis dallying as he came out for it.

STAR SHOWING: Bradford City striker Andy CookSTAR SHOWING: Bradford City striker Andy Cook
STAR SHOWING: Bradford City striker Andy Cook

Ironside chased him down, tackled him and curled in a finish that was not easy from such a tight angle to put his side 1-0 up after just eight minutes. It was the first goal the Bantams had conceded in five games.

They were slow out of the blocks but once they got going, they took over and had a quality striker of their own to come to the fore.

Before he did, Richie Smallwood had a shot smothered by Tom Anderson and a free-kick headed over by Matty Platt.

Midway through the half, Cook stepped forward.

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GOAL: Joe Ironside put Doncaster Rovers in frontGOAL: Joe Ironside put Doncaster Rovers in front
GOAL: Joe Ironside put Doncaster Rovers in front

He warmed up by straining to head a Jonathan Tomkinson cross on target despite it being behind him and within a minute he had found the net.

When Joseph Oluwo came across to have Smith having a shot, Jamie Walker looped a corner beyond the far post. Doncaster will be frustrated that Cook forced the ball through with so much red-and-white - and yellow - between his head and the net but it was Cook's 11th goal of the season, two behind Ironside at this stage.

Smith – a player Grant McCann borrowed in his first spell as Rovers manager and when at Hull City – is into double figures too now, putting his side in front after the recalled Ian Lawlor made a good stretching save to keep Alex Gilliead out.

Smith's goal owed much to Cook's range of qualities, bringing the ball down to end a game of head tennis, winning a battle to keep it, then threading a lovely reverse pass given the finish it deserved.

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The second half was rather routine for Bradford, roared on by a 2,845-strong away following in an 8,645 crowd which sang and thunder-clapped away to the incessant thud of their drum, only letting themselves down when they threw flares on to celebrate the second and third goals.

With Walker pulling the strings until being caught by a nasty tackle which earnt Jack Senior a booking, they were always comfortable without plumping up a cushion on the scoreboard until Cook's second in the 85th minute.

Walker had a shot blocked after forcing his way through a tackle, as did Lewis Richards after using some good footwork to come inside. Walker won the ball off Tommy Rowe in midfield but shot wide after driving forward with it.

Although Ben Close had a shot wide and Ciaran Kelly made an excellent slide tackle on Ironside after McCann's double substitution brought on Jamie Sterry and Luke Molyneux, they could not have been said to have turned the tide, just held it back a touch.

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Jack Goodman and Will Flint had barely made it onto the field when a move started by Halliday ended with Cook guiding a low ball from Gilliead inside the far post with the side of his foot.

What had promised much early on for Rovers ended with a smattering of boos but the Bradford players lined up to be serenaded by away fans singing Jingle Bells.

For them it really was a lot of fun to see Bradford win away. Graham Alexander has only been their manager since November 6 but the speed with which he has gelled a team will be making teams higher up League Two a bit twitchy.

Doncaster Rovers: Lawlor; Bailey, Anderson, Olowu; Nixon (Sterry 60), Close, Biggins (Molyneux 60), Rowe (Flint 83), Senior (Goodman 83); Ironside, Faal.

Unused substitutes: Jones, Hurst, Kuleya.

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Bradford City: Lewis; Tomkinson, Platt , Kelly; Halliday, Gilliead, Smallwood, Walker (Pattison 70), Richards; Smith (Osadebe 85), Cook (Taylor 90+6).

Unused substitutes: Doyle, Oduor, Oliver, Derbyshire.

Referee: E Duckworth (Preston).

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