Bradford City 0 Doncaster Rovers 1: Analysis – Points over performance as Rovers power on
It has been said that at this stage of the season performances do not matter, it is only results that do.
As they returned home from the short trip to Bradford clutching three points, that assertion is probably a good thing for Doncaster Rovers.
Capitalising on their one moment of genuine quality and magic on a slog of an afternoon at Valley Parade, they ensured there will be few thoughts of a poor, frustrating and disappointing attacking performance against the side at the bottom of the league.
Instead, the focus will be Mallik Wilks' goal on the break and, rightly so, a magnificent defensive performance where they comfortably dealt with the battle Bradford brought to them.
While the overall performance will not act as a confidence booster heading towards the final few games of the campaign, a third consecutive win should increase belief their season will not end in five game's time.
The cushion from the chasing pack remained the same, the momentum built up over the last couple of weeks continued to grow.
It may not have been the most pleasant viewing experience, nor great for the nerves, but ultimately Rovers got exactly what they needed.
A LACK OF CONTROL
For long periods of the game Rovers were outfought by their hosts.
Not outfought in bodies-on-the-line defending or the battle to keep a clean sheet stakes, but outfought in taking control of the game and pushing forward.
There was a real urgency about Bradford's play - understandably so given their perilous position at the bottom of the league.
While this could so easily have manifested itself in panicked desperation, it instead made Bradford a dangerous prospect and ensured they would feel bitter disappointment that they ended up on the losing side.
They chased down every ball, pressed as if their lives depended on it and managed to marry all that with some good work on the ball their talented individuals clearly possess.
Rovers have the talent and the confidence but showed a major lack of composure and, at times, smarts to grab the game by the scuff of the neck and not let go.
Passing was sloppy, play was over ambitious when simplicity would have done the job far better.
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So much has been written about how good Rovers have been this season going forward but the defence has not received even a fraction of the plaudits.
Saturday's performance reiterated how much of an oversight that is.
Though Bradford had the better of the attacking play, Rovers' defensive efforts ensured that came with little genuine threat.
Barring a brilliant header from Eoin Doyle which cannoned back off the post in the first half, Marko Marosi never looked like being beaten - and that was not down to his own prowess.
Once again there was a change of centre half partners ahead of the Rovers goalkeeper as illness for Paul Downing restricted him to the bench. And once again the change was seamless with Tom Anderson not missing a beat on his return alongside Andy Butler.
Twin towers let little pass and were never unduly troubled as they more than made up for an off day for the players ahead of them.
MAGIC FROM MALLIK
While the defence did their job with aplomb, ahead of them there was a tremendous lack of fluency and composure which ensured chances to break the deadlock were few and far between.
That was until the 73rd minute when Ali Crawford lofted a superb ball down the line, sending Wilks scampering from just inside the Bradford half.
He powered towards goal, cutting across marker Adam Chicksen before smashing a left footed shot that powered through unsuspecting keeper Richard O'Donnell.
It was a solitary moment of magic from a player in supreme confidence and determined to hit that 20 goal mark in what has been an excellent season.