A 10 man Rovers side saw out a goalless draw at Bradford City on the opening day of the Sky Bet League Two season.
Mark Hughes’ side, who are favourites for promotion this season, struggled to find a way past Gary McSheffrey’s side after playing against 10 men for more than 45 minutes of the match.
Debuts were handed to James Maxwell, George Miller, Harrison Biggins, Kyle Hurst and Lee Tomlin, while there were substitute appearances for Jack Degruchy, Josh Andrews and Adam Long who also made their debuts.
The first-half was dominated by the Bantams and the game was a meaty affair that saw plenty of challenges causing a few stoppages.
An early booking came Rovers’ way after a tackle from Liam Ravenhill on Emmanuel Osadebe. This proceeded to a lengthy break in play as the Bradford player received treatment from the paramedics and medics from both clubs.
Shortly after, boss Gary McSheffrey opted to bring off Ravenhill after the incident in place of Degruchy.
Following the restart, the hosts had a great chance to take the lead, but it was a strong right hand from Jonathan Mitchell that denied Vadine Oliver.
There were some glimpses on goal for Rovers, from corner routines and an inspiring sprint from 40-yards by Miller, but ultimately it was Rovers’ backline that was called into action for most of the opening period. Oliver was a constant threat that Maxwell and Joseph Olowu dealt with well on numerous occasions.
A brilliant chance for Rovers came into stoppage time at the end of the first-half as Miller found himself in a lucrative position, 10 yards out from goal, but was blocked by the oppositions defender.
Deep into added time, Tomlin was sent off after picking up two yellow cards in quick succession after delaying Bradford’s free kick and another for simulation.
This meant Rovers had to adapt to playing the second half with only 10 men. Straight after half-time, McSheffrey introduced Andrews to the match in place of Degruchy.
Bradford were quick out the blocks with Jamie Walker hitting the netting. Minutes later Mitchell was quick off his line to punch the ball away before it reached the head of Oliver.
Rovers’ number one was called into action multiple times in the afternoon, pulling off key saves against Kian Harratt , Matty Foulds, and Oliver, and put in a commanding shift to keep the clean sheet.
Rovers came close to taking the lead on the 58th minute as Adam Clayton’s corner was almost turned home by Olowu. At second attempt the skipper’s corner was headed clear by Romoney Crichlow.
This put Rovers in some momentum with an ambitious break following for Rovers between Maxwell and Hurst but unfortunately, nothing was to come from it for Rovers.
Just past the hour mark, Bradford won a corner directly in front of goal just outside the penalty area. From the kick, Richie Smallwood beat Rovers’ wall, but the ball hit the post and went out of play.
Heading into the final 10 minutes, McSheffrey switched to a back five, which saw the return of Tom Anderson after a spell on the sideline. He replaced Hurst, who picked up a booking on his way off the pitch.
Jamie Walker resulted to taking a chance on goal from 25-yards after becoming frustrated, but Mitchell was able to watch ball go over his bar.
Deep into the six minutes stoppage time at the end of the game, Rovers made their final change with Long replacing Biggins.
Despite having everything thrown their way, Rovers managed to come away from the University of Bradford Stadium with a goalless draw.