Officers with firearms as Millers test Bantams but have hole shot in their defence ... Bradford City 1 Rotherham United 0
Police carrying rifles and pistols patrolled the streets outside the stadium in the hours before kick-off.
It seemed a touch severe, even with a sharpshooter like Kieffer Moore and the division’s joint leading scorers, Rotherham United, riding into town.
Six-goal Moore defied his tight groin to give the Millers, looking for a fourth successive victory, a huge boost by taking his place in their line-up for the Yorkshire derby at Bradford City.
After scoring 15 times in their opening seven League matches, Rotherham, like the boys in blue, appeared well armed.
But, despite a valiant second-half charge, they left Valley Parade pointless and without adding to their goal tally.
One piece of poor defending in the first half - not the first time the Millers have been found wanting in this department this season - settled a tight, hard-fought contest in the home side’s favour.
“We had wave upon wave of balls into the box,” manager Paul Warne said. “I thought Bradford defended really well. Their keeper was really good.
“We just didn’t defend one cross and we have suffered from it.”
After three wins came three whinges.
Warne lamented his side’s inability to protect their net as Bradford bagged a 21-minute winner, was angered by Joe Mattock’s rush of blood which saw the left-back sent off for a needless second yellow card in time added on and claimed lady luck had deserted his side.
He was right on all counts.
Rotherham’s penalty area looked like a defender-free zone as Tony McMahon crossed from the right and Romain Vincelot found himself with time and space between centre-halves Richard Wood and Michael Ihiekwe to head home.
Jon Taylor led the rapid-response unit and had the equaliser in his sights just five minutes later as latched on to Ryan Williams’ pass of the match.
He beat Bantams goalkeeper Colin Doyle at the second attempt, only for Matthew Kilgallon to somehow hook the ball off the line.
It was the closest the Millers, guilty of too many misplaced passes, would come to a goal in a game when all the loose balls seemed to fall Bradford’s way.
“I didn’t think there was much between the two teams,” Warne said. “Things didn’t really drop for us. I am not saying we missed chances, but Tayls’ attempt was a pretty defining point in the first half.”
After visiting keeper Marek Rodak, spreading himself well, had foiled Dominic Poleon in a one-on-one just before the break, Rotherham went at Bradford in the second half.
Richie Towell’s shot took a deflection off Moore straight at a grateful Doyle, Lee Frecklington headed wide and Doyle saved sharply from Towell, with Nathaniel Knight-Percival producing a stunning block to keep out Frecklington’s fierce follow-up.
They were all decent opportunites, but there was never a moment when the Millers really cut through the Bantams to create the clear-cut opening required against a defiant home rearguard.
Mattock did cut through Alex Gilliead, though, and deserved to depart.
A ball into the box and a free header.
Just like against Bury, twice. Just like against Charlton Athletic, twice.
Even the goal Rotherham conceded as they drubbed Walsall 5-1 in midweek came from a cross not properly dealt with.
Vincelot was the latest player to remind the Millers where they have most work to do.
“I wasn’t best pleased,” said Warne. “There is no way he should have a free header in the centre of our goal. I am disappointed. We defended everything pretty resolutely, but not that.”
Eighth place after eight games, considering the Millers have already played four teams above them in the table, represents an encouraging start to Warne’s first full season in charge.
Bradford are up to third place and knew they had been in a battle.
“My goalkeeper and centre-halves were outstanding,” said their manager, Stuart McCall. “We competed for first, second and third balls. All credit to Rotherham, they forced us back. They are a really strong team who put us under a lot of pressure.”
An afternoon of officers with weapons ended in frustration.
The Millers loaded the gun but didn’t quite fire the bullets.