Night to forget for battered Bantams

Ben Saynor was one of two 18-year-olds making their debut for City at Doncaster

Ben Saynor was one of two 18-year-olds making their debut for City at Doncaster

Ben Saynor was one of two 18-year-olds making their debut for City at Doncaster

Ben Saynor was one of two 18-year-olds making their debut for City at Doncaster

A free-kick from Kyle Nix flies past Ben Smith for City's only goal

A free-kick from Kyle Nix flies past Ben Smith for City's only goal

A free-kick from Kyle Nix flies past Ben Smith for City's only goal

A free-kick from Kyle Nix flies past Ben Smith for City's only goal

First published in Sport Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Photograph of the Author by , Bradford City Reporter

Doncaster 5, City 1

According to the strains of Shalamar belting around Doncaster's impressive new home before the game, this was a "Night to Remember".

Not for Stuart McCall and his outclassed youngsters it wasn't as Johnstone's Paint Trophy holders Rovers gave them a right coating.

Actions speak louder than words and the sight of a furious McCall booting a water bottle along the touchline midway through this men-against-boys mismatch sum-med up the mood perfectly.

Fortunately, the bottle flew past the home dug-out without taking anyone out. But he could have justly claimed mitigating circumstances if someone had been clipped.

McCall had made wholesale changes from Saturday for a competition well down their priorities. But it was a big night for 18-year-old keeper Ben Saynor and left winger Sean Taylforth, who is four days younger.

The debut duo, replacing the Jamaicans Donovan Ricketts and Omar Daley, brought the average age of the side to just 22. Captain Paul Heckingbottom, one of four survivors from the starting line-up at Barnet, was the veteran at 30.

Taylforth almost made a Luke Medley-esque introduction after five minutes, racing on to a Barry Conlon flick-on and hitting a first-time drive which flashed across goal and just past the far post.

But City were undone in the 16th minute after a flurry of Donny corners. From the third, Paul Green played it short to left back Gareth Roberts, whose cross was bulleted home by Mark McCammon.

Saynor comfortably held a Steve Roberts header but he had no chance as Rovers doubled the lead midway through the half.

This time it was right back James O'Connor who claimed the assist with a raking pass which Paul Heffernan nudged into the path of Lewis Guy to finish in style.

Joe Colbeck was booked for a late tackle and should have done better when Scott Phelan gave him a sight of goal. But the winger's weak shot was straight at Neil Sullivan.

City enjoyed a huge let-off when Heffernan clattered the crossbar after Guy's raid down the right had eluded Heckingbottom.

Conlon collected City's second yellow card and Matt Mills pumped the free-kick upfield where it fell for Heffernan to half-volley just over. The pressure continued and Saynor pulled off an excellent low save to deny Guy his second.

But a third goal was on the cards - and Rovers got it after an awful piece of defending from Simon Ainge. He was caught dawdling on the ball by Heffernan who burst clear and, though his shot hit the inside of the post, McCammon stretched to bundle in the rebound.

It was too much for McCall and the bottle went. His team's seemed to have disappeared already.

Saynor defied Sean McDaid and Heffernan shot wide after Ainge missed his clearance. The cards were also mounting up, with Phelan in the book before half-time brought much-needed respite.

McCall made all three subs at the break, which meant a first glimpse of Peter Thorne in competitive action. Donny switched keepers - Sullivan could have pegged his unused kit back in the dressing room for next time.

With Ainge hauled off, Hecking-bottom moved to centre back as Luke O'Brien became the third City debutant on the left.

O'Brien was immediately nutmegged by Guy and Clarke did well to turn O'Connor's cross away from danger.

There was still more than half an hour left but home boss Sean O'Driscoll knew the job was done. Off came McCammon and O'Connor and on came former City loan player Bruce Dyer.

The inevitable fourth goal arrived in the 63rd minute. Saynor parried Heffernan's shot but Martin Woods had all the time in the world to hammer home the rebound.

At last City showed some defiance and Colbeck's cross-shot was tipped behind by back-up keeper Ben Smith before sub Nathan Joynes glanced wide from the corner.

Then Nix was tripped by Green 25 yards out - and got up to bend the free-kick over the wall and past Smith. It was a quality goal, if no more than scant consolation.

But City's agony was not over as the hapless Tom Harban thumped a Guy cross into the roof of his own net. A comical mix-up between Clarke and Saynor then nearly gifted Donny with a sixth.

The floodlights failed the second the final whistle went. The lights had gone out on City long before.

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