Bradford City Women’s final home game of the season finished with a 9-1 defeat at the hands of champions Blackburn Rovers but the scoreline did not reflect how well the Bantams battled.

Rovers sealed their third title in a row with six games of a 24-match season remaining, and came to Eccleshill with the FA Women's National League Cup also in their pocket, and with one eye on their promotion play-off against Coventry United at Valley Parade on May 18.

City started the game with five players that have come through the ranks of Luke Norris’ under-18s side, and handed a debut to under-18 captain Lydia Bennett, who looked confident and composed in defence.

The visitors took the lead through Sophie Charlton after only six minutes, with a close range finish after good work by Natasha Flint. Then two minutes later Rovers were on the attack again, but were penalised when Natasha Fenton flattened City keeper Aimee Routledge as she came out to claim a corner.

With just 10 minutes on the clock the unexpected happened. City forward Falone Sumaili chased down a back pass to Rovers keeper Amelia Size, and in the ensuing scramble Kayleigh McDonald put into her own net to hand City an equaliser.

Rovers continued to press but Bennett and Ellie Edwards combined well to keep Rovers at bay. Zoe Roberts had possibly one of her best games of the season, marshalling the defence confidently alongside Jen Clark and Sophie Parrish.

Sumaili went close with a hopeful long range shot after chasing down the Blackburn full back and winning the ball 30 yards out.

City hearts were in mouths on the 20 minute mark as Harriet Jakeman, who is one booking away from a suspension, made one of her characteristic crunching tackles on the edge of the box to leave Fenton needing treatment but the referee waved away Blackburn’s protests.

City settled into their own rhythm, but just before the break Blackburn finally found a way through. Jess Holbrook’s corner picked out Fenton, who fired past Routledge to send her side in 2-1 up at the break.

Whatever Blackburn manager Gemma Donnelly said to her players at the interval clearly had an effect.

On 50 minutes Makin got on the end of a knockdown from Flint and volleyed Rovers 3-1 ahead from inside the box.

Blackburn kicked on from there, and as City’s young side tired, they piled on the pressure with goals in the 52nd minute from Sophie Charlton, and the 57th as Flint rounded Routledge to finish into an empty net.

Flint grabbed her second and Blackburn’s sixth when she slotted home the rebound after Routledge smartly saved her powerful strike from the edge of the box.

With 13 minutes remaining Makin scored her second and Rovers seventh with a simple flick from another well-worked corner. Rovers’ own debutant Carra Jones took advantage of another scramble in the City box to poke the ball into the top of the net.

Natasha Flint rounded off the scoring and completed her hat-trick in the 86th minute as she picked up a through ball from Shepherd and curled the ball into the corner of the City goal.

Blackburn have now won 22 of their 23 league games this season, and in the second half of this game gave a display of football that shows their champion credentials.

City finish the season this Sunday with a trip to neighbours Huddersfield Town when they hope to avoid losing all 24 league games.

The attention turns to planning for next season and the key recruitment drive that lies ahead to strengthen the squad that has shown great determination throughout a very difficult period.

City: Routledge, Roberts, Clark, Parrish, Kennedy, Norde ©, Jakeman, Sumaili, Edwards, Willoughby, Bennett