Semi Ajayi sits out a game of two halves ... the story of Bradford Park Avenue 1 Rotherham United 5

By Paul Davis | 17/07/2019

Semi Ajayi sits out a game of two halves ... the story of Bradford Park Avenue 1 Rotherham United 5
The Millers in action at Bradford Park Avenue. Picture by Kerrie Beddows

IT was so sleek, so slick, so easy on the eye that boss Paul Warne could have been forgiven for applauding.

This isn't the standard of Rotherham United's football we're talking about, although that wasn't bad in a five-goal first-half blast.

All eyes were on the pitch at non-league Bradford Park Avenue following events 24 hours earlier when the Millers had turned up at nearby Farsley Celtic for a pre-season friendly only to find themselves heading straight back to AESSEAL New York Stadium.

Given a decent surface tonight, Warne's men obliged by playing some decent stuff before the break. Bradford were brave but beaten up by a Kyle Vassell hat-trick until they recovered their pride in the second period.

"We've trained already today so, in a nice, respectful way, tonight is another training session. We've come through injury free," Warne said.

"I was obviously more excited watching the first-half display than I was the second-half one.

"Vass has been one of our stand-out players in pre-season. He's been really good. He was at the front of nearly all our good play in the first half."

Semi Ajayi, believed to be attracting interest from Championship West Bromwich Albion, was an unused substitute.

Rotherham needed only two minutes to go ahead, record signing Freddie Ladapo striking from 14 yards to open his Millers account following his £400,000 move from Plymouth Argyle.

Nine minutes later, Vassell doubled the advantage with a close-range prod after Ben Wiles had run clear and hit the post.

Vassell continued his impressive pre-season just before the half-hour mark, nodding home his second goal in front of a crowd of around 400 spectators.

More pinball in the Bradford box ended with Daniel Barlaser applying the finish before a crisp 18-yard effort on the stroke of half-time saw Vassell complete his hat-trick.

Fortunately, he left the matchball out there as he was taken off, job well done, at the interval.

"I thought all three strikers did well in the first half," Warne added. "Freddie got on the scoresheet early on and was a constant goal threat and Proc (Jamie Proctor) was really unlucky. Nothing that he hit would go in."

The Millers' match yesterday at Bradford's nearby National League North rivals, Farsley, had been cancelled just over an over before kick-off.

Rotherham, having viewed the rutted, divoted playing surface, had reluctantly decided that to play on it would have been inviting injuries.

There were no such problems at large, spacious Horsfall Stadium. The surface was flat, the turf lush and more even than the contest.

The second half, with Warne making a raft of substitutions, was a much scrappier affair, Michael Smith trying his luck from 16 yards and coming closest to adding to the Millers' lead.

After Carlton Morris had taken exception to being upended by a crude, late challenge from Mitchell Lund, the home side pulled back a goal in the 76th minute through Shaun Gardner.

Next up National League Chesterfield away on Saturday as Rotherham prepare for the start of their League One campaign in just over a fortnight.

"We wanted to score more goals in the second half," Warne said. "We created enough chances to do that but we didn't taken them. As a workout, tonight has been a good evening, so I'm pretty pleased."

The first-half display had earned his favour, as had Bradford's home, not least because of the Millers boss's well-known devotion to fitness.

This is the man, after all, who has just put his squad through 80 kilometres of training in only seven days during an arduous training camp in Germany.

Surrounding the excellent pitch at the Horsfall Stadium ... a running track.

Rotherham goals: Ladapo 2, Vassell 11, 28, 44, Barlaser 39.

Rotherham (4-4-3): Price (Bilboe 62); Olosunde, Cooper (Ihiekwe 64), Robertson (Wood H-T), Hinds (Mattock 64); Wiles (MacDonald H-T), Crooks, Barlaser (Jones 64); Proctor (Smith 62), Ladapo (Morris 57), Vassell (Kayode (H-T). Sub not used: Ajayi.

 


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