Doncaster Rovers 2 Bradford City 0

THE Happy Mondays caused a stir locally over the weekend when they announced plans for a summer gig at Doncaster Racecourse.

But any hopes City harboured of enjoying their own happy Monday in the town were dashed with another depressing defeat in front of the TV cameras.

The mathematics may suggest otherwise but it’s hard to see any way back into the play-off picture now.

Seven points adrift of sixth spot, albeit with a game in hand, the Bantams remain a team who have forgotten to win.

With one free header, Doncaster’s John Marquis surely buried any hope of extending the season beyond the final ten matches.

His stoppage-time second was just throwing salt on a gaping wound.

As it stands, City would have to win all of them to beat last year’s final tally of 79 points.

There’s more chance of this dour encounter being used in the next wave of Sky Sports advertising trailers.

City bagged 22 points from the last ten in 2016 and 20 a year ago. Right now, most fans are just yearning for three to end this wretched winless streak that has seemed to have gone on forever.

Doncaster’s form going into the game was hardly pulling up trees either. They were pretty average for most of it.

But they made it count where it mattered as the evening panned out in a depressingly all-too-familiar manner.

Doncaster, let’s face it, had also registered only one victory in 2018 – and had won just two out of 12 this season at home to teams above them in the table.

So, even given the Yorkshire derby element, it seemed a strange choice for live coverage on Sky. The large gaps in the stands showed what the public thought.

It was City’s first TV appearance since Charlie Wyke’s hat-trick sunk Bristol Rovers at the start of September. Oh, for those halcyon days.

Again the big man was sitting it out suspended for the first of three small-screen airings in a run of six games in 24 days.

It meant that Alex Gilliead was once more paired in attack with Shay McCartan as City stuck with the 3-5-2 approach that had frustrated Wigan until stoppage time.

The only change from last Wednesday was Matty Lund’s absence in midfield after suffering a knock. Nicky Law got the nod for his first start in nearly two months.

Grayson’s close links with his former Leicester boss Martin O’Neill ensured the Republic of Ireland allowed Colin Doyle to stay to play before joining up with the national team in Turkey.

That spared, for now, a goalkeeping headache for the Bantams boss – one that he is likely to face at Valley Parade on Saturday with the Irish in action in Ankara the previous night, when Doyle should get some game-time.

Adam Chicksen had already gone off on international duty after being called up for the first time by Zimbabwe for a four-team tournament in Zambia.

Tony McMahon had scored his first City goal at the Keepmoat in 2015 and was nearly in again after five minutes. Marko Marosi spilled McCartan’s cross after a neat passing move but recovered in the nick of time before McMahon could pounce.

The right wing-back was in again after ten minutes as City came even closer to an early breakthrough.

McMahon’s deflected shot flashed across goal, Law tried to help it on with an attempted scorpion kick and the ball suddenly popped up for Timothee Dieng. He nodded it goalwards but Joe Wright saved Rovers by hooking off the line.

As City’s bright start continued, McCartan forced the first corner with a fierce deflected shot. Romain Vincelot leapt well to meet it and his header was scrambled away from in front the line by Marosi.

Wright headed well over from Doncaster’s opening corner but City had been the stronger team in the first quarter – without converting those chances into a first goal.

Rovers began to find their feet in the contest and after Wright glanced wide from Tommy Rowe’s free-kick, James Coppinger set up John Marquis for a thumping half-volley over the bar.

There was a distinct lack of atmosphere as the contest grew increasingly scrappy. It was hardly a gripping advert for League One for the armchair audience on or off the pitch.

The noise lifted at the City end as Vincelot jumped high again to win a corner. Marosi was not convincing in the home goal and appeared to catch his own man Wright with a haymaker as he punched it away through a goal-mouth scrum.

City’s approach remained neat and tidy, with Law’s influence on the ball clear, but they lacked that cutting edge.

And it was evident again right on the break as Gilliead’s shot on the turn just eluded Law in front of goal and trickled the wrong side of the post.

For the eighth game running, City had not managed a first-half goal.

McMahon nodded over straight after the restart before the home crowd finally found their voices in a bid to drag Rovers out of their attacking torpor.

A red flare went off behind Doyle’s goal – maybe to show their side where to aim as Matt Kilgallon mopped up most of the stuff thrown his way.

While the home fans continued to make their own fun, Grayson made his first changes – including a debut for Joel Grodowski after a first year in England dogged by a back injury.

The German striker, a prolific scorer in the regional leagues, replaced Gilliead – and almost made a dream start with an audacious attempt that narrowly cleared the bar.

Grodowski then went down theatrically under a challenge in the box but City’s loud appeals for a penalty found deaf ears with referee Darren Handley.

The entertainment value remained questionable and the away end launched into a cheeky chorus of “if you’re watching on the telly, turn it off.”

With 17 minutes left, Grayson threw on another youngster in Jordan Gibson to add to a increasingly youthful frontline as City searched for that elusive reward.

But having shown no threat at all, it was Doncaster who suddenly got their noses in front.

Niall Mason crossed early from the right and Marquis caught Vincelot ball-watching as he jumped relatively unchallenged to power the ball past Doyle.

It was a sickener for City but they were paying the price for not converting their own opportunities.

The tone of the game changed with that goal as Doncaster went chasing a killer second. City’s confidence drained.

And it was no surprise when it arrived in stoppage time, Marquis again the scorer with an angled thump through Doyle at his near post.