To simply look at the scoreline from Doncaster Rovers’ opening game of the season would be to miss the whole story. Bradford 0-0 Doncaster, yet an anti-climactic return to football this was not.
Proceedings were soured early when a full-blooded challenge from Liam Ravenhill left Bantams midfielder Emmanuel Osadebe with a suspected broken leg, turning the ire of the near 20,000 strong home crowd on Rovers as referee Bobby Madden delivered only a yellow card. Gary McSheffrey hooked Ravenhill immediately, but a toxic atmosphere lingered for the rest of the afternoon.
Bradford edged an attritional first half on balance before Lee Tomlin forgot his surroundings and decided he was performing pantomime at the nearby Alhambra Theatre, earning two farcical bookings in 20 seconds for exaggerated spoiler tactics at a free kick.
His dismissal did nothing for the mood of the Bradford fans and spoiled any hope Rovers had of winning the game, although Joseph Olowu did come close from a corner in the second half. The rest of the match played out as an exercise in defence for the visitors, but the Rovers rearguard stood firm to earn a gritty point which felt like all three once the final whistle blew.
The Bantams were wasteful, yes, but Jonathan Mitchell proved expert at game management and the back four all came out with credit, particularly Ro-Shaun Williams who led the unit well. This was a display unlike anything Rovers produced last season and offers hope for the campaign ahead.