AN astonishing error of judgement by the officials in the last minute saw Rotherham United beaten in the most controversial of circumstances by a goal that quite clearly never crossed the line.
The Millers players, to a man and led by an irate Andy Warrington, besieged linesman Richard Clark who had flagged for a goal after Tom Adeyemi’s tremendous 30- yarder hit the bar and came down close to the line, but nowhere near over it. And no Bradford player even appealed for a goal.
When referee Grant Hegley - who after three minutes had denied Rotherham the clearest of penalties - gave a goal, the Rotherham players simply could not believe it and protested at some length and with justifiable anger.
But this amazing decision - and the linesman wasn’t in line by the way - was allowed to stand and Rotherham could only fume at the end of this cracking match with manager Ronnie Moore having his say to the officials as they walked off.
It was difficult for him to avoid doing so and the Millers players knew they had been robbed.
It was the major talking point, of course, amongst the 10,000 crowd whilst the talking point beforehand for Millers fans was the absence of Adam Le Fondre who wasn’t in the squad.
Thomas-Moore was Ryan Taylor’s partner with Henderson on the right and Marshall the left.
Kennedy came in at left back when the club decided not to appeal Newey’s red card with the video evidence deemed inconclusive. For Bradford it was the first home game in charge for caretaker boss Peter Jackson who, as a Valley Parade hero, would love the job permanently.
The expectation was for a fiery City start.
Well, they attempted one but should have conceded a penalty after only three minutes and you can only say that it was a total surprise when referee Hegley failed to award it.
Thomas-Moore slid a pass up the right for Henderson. He came inside and as he prepared to shoot with his left foot, Williams took his ‘standing’ leg, his right, and Henderson toppled.
It looked the clearest of fouls.
Instead of a penalty opportunity Rotherham could instantly have been behind. The giant Oliver nodded a free-kick across the goal face and Williams failed to stab it home from only three yards.
City’s aerial threat was troubling Rotherham at set-pieces and long throws but it was the ground route which was their undoing after 16 minutes - and yet again, for the ninth successive away game, the Millers were trailing and it was another early one too.
Right back Hunt was out on the touchline when he linked up with Dobie whose pass inside put Hunt beyond Law.
He moved in at a narrow angle and with Warrington expecting a shot across him, Hunt stabbed the ball inside the near post.
So, Rotherham were in the familiar position of chasing an away game and although Ryan Taylor struck a 20 yarder it was the fired up Bantams who were making most of the running in the first half.
Rotherham needed to repel them and then did the best thing - they equalised on 37 minutes.
Bradford scrambled their way out of a spot of bother before Ryan Taylor, on the right, drilled a left foot cross towards the far post where Marshall came in to thump a firm headed past Pidgeley.
Minutes later they almost added to it following a swift break through Mullins, Thomas-Moore and and Jason Taylor whose low centre saw Hunt poke behind as Marshall prepared to finish off.
It was the Millers who started much the better in the second half and a Jason Taylor shot thudded back off Pidgeley’s chest as they pushed for the lead.
And City escaped when Ryan Taylor and Henderson linked and from the centre Hunt’s clearance rebounded off Williams and just wide.
Kennedy went even closer, his fierce free-kick hitting the bar and Bradford responded in kind, Speight heading against the bar from three yards.
The action crackled and great work by Marshall and Henderson saw Ryan Taylor’s near post header superbly kept out by Pidgeley who then defied Mullins from 15 yards.
Then it was Rotherham’s turn to escape, firstly when Dobie dallied eight yards out and Kennedy got in a challenge and then when Hanson headed wide.
When sub Syers saw his shot deflected off the offside Speight, it seemed it would be honours even until the late drama.
BRADFORD CITY: Pidgeley, Hunt, Oliver, Williams, O’Brien, Evans (Osborne 89), Worthington (Adeyemi 80), Flynn, Dobie (Syers 71), Speight, Hanson. Subs: McLaughlin, Bullock, Horne, Threlfall.
ROTHERHAM UTD: Warrington, Coid (Tonge 67), Mullins, Fenton, Kennedy, Henderson, J Taylor, Law, Marshall, Thomas-Moore, R Taylor. Subs: Annerson, Ashworth, Harrison, Randall, Bradley, Warne.
Referee: Grant Hegley (Herts).
Goals: Hunt 16, Adeyemi (90) for Bradford; Marshall (37) for United.