Rovers registered a dramatic 4-3 victory at Valley Parade in their second pre-season friendly of 2020 with Jason Lokilo, Fejiri Okenabirhie (2) and James Coppinger all on target.
Lokilo’s first-half strike from the edge of the box saw Rovers take a lead into the break but second half finishes by Bradford City’s Billy Clarke and Kurtis Guthrie put the home side in the ascendancy around the hour mark.
Fejiri Okenabirhie’s cool finish brought Rovers level before Lee Novak’s goal from the edge of the box retook the lead for the Bantams. A James Coppinger masterclass saw him chip the keeper for Rovers third and win the penalty for the fourth. The spot-kick was coolly dispatched by Fejiri Okenabirhie.
The hosts had the best of the early chances in the match with Zeli Ismail and Clarke both being afforded space to run at the defence. Ben Blythe was in the right place at the right time to thwart both half-chances.
At the other end, Rovers best early chance came from a smart overlapping run down the right by Brad Halliday who was played in by Lokilo. The cross looked dangerous but was well cleared by the home side.
Halliday was called upon at the other end putting in a big block to deny an almost certain goal 20 minutes into the first half.
The block sparked a change in momentum for the visitors and minutes later Rovers took the lead with Lokilo finishing smartly from the edge of the box.
The winger followed that up with a delicious cross which was met well by Liam Ravenhill, but the youngster was only able to head over Richard O’Donnell’s crossbar.
Rovers probably should have stretched their lead when Lokilo’s cross found Trialist Two unmarked on the penalty spot. His first-time shot lacked the power in needed to trouble O’Donnell.
Bradford, and in particular Ismail, continued to cause Rovers problems down the right-hand side - his low driven effort was well saved by Louis Jones.
Reece Staunton forced his own keeper into a save five minutes before half-time when he toed Danny Amos’ cross goalward.
Amos was the only one of the starting XI who retained his place for the second half and while Rovers started brightly enough pinging the ball around the middle of the park. They were undone by a quick ball into the feet of Clarke who fired beyond the trialist keeper.
Bradford took the lead just before the hour mark when Guthrie - who had recently come on as a substitute - bundled his way through the midfield and neatly chipped over the keeper from a narrow angle.
But Fejiri Okenabirhie drew Rovers level just five minutes later as he got on the end of a through ball by Trialist Five. There was still plenty to do for Rovers no.9 when the ball reached him, but quick feet bought him a yard of space and he finished neatly just inside the far post.
Bradford continued to create some good chances and Branden Horton recovered well to clear Novak’s effort off the line, but Novak made no mistakes minutes later when a misplaced pass out of defence fell kindly to him at the edge of the box and his driven effort nestled just inside the post.
With 15 minutes to go, Jon Taylor’s influence on the game began to grow and he put in several crosses from the right-hand side which looked dangerous.
His ball into Coppinger in the 80th minute found the no.26 with a yard of space near the edge of the box and he drew the game level with a sublime chip over the keeper’s head which dipped just under the crossbar.
The midfielder was at his absolute best just minutes later when he picked the ball up just outside the box, nutmegged one defender, danced passed two more and, just as he was lining up a shot, was hacked down for a Rovers penalty. The spot kick was powerfully converted by Okenabirhie.
Okenabirhie did have the ball in the net again when he toed home Trialist Five’s half-cross, half-shot but the assistant referee ruled it out for offside.
First half: Louis Jones, Danny Amos, Ben Blythe, Tom Anderson, Brad Halliday, Ben Whiteman, Trialist 1, Trialist 2, Trialist 3, Jason Lokilo, Liam Ravenhill.
Second half: Trialist 4, Danny Amos (replaced by Ben Bythe 64'), Branden Horton, Joe Wright, AJ Greaves, Lirak Hasani, Madger Gomes, Trialist 5, James Coppinger, Jon Taylor, Fejiri Okenabirhie