Rovers U18s fell victim to a clinical Bradford City side as they were beaten in the EFL Youth Alliance League at the Horsfall Community Stadium.
Jay Tinsdale, Dylan Youmbi and Sam Bentley all got on the score sheet with Harry Ibbitson also providing a brace for the Bantams on home soil.
The result sees the youth team remain six points behind league leaders Harrogate Town with three games of the regular season remaining. After that, they will enter a merit league to seal their fate for the 2022/23 season.
Bradford got play underway in West Yorkshire and although Rovers started brightly and looked to be enjoying the ball in the first few minutes, the opening chance went City’s way.
The hosts fired a free kick at goal from the centre of Rovers’ half but goalkeeper Jacob Bryant was at full stretch to get a hand on the ball and push it away from danger.
However, 19 minutes in, the U16 stopper wouldn’t be as fortunate and a long range effort from Tinsdale flew past him to nestle in the bottom corner to score the Bantams’ opening goal of the game.
Rovers then tried to reset and go again working down each flank to craft an opportunity but, another 10 minutes later, a Bryant parry fell nicely for Ibbitson and the attacker smartly lifted the ball into the far corner to double his side’s lead.
Youth team manager Frank Sinclair then opted for a change of system and replaced Tom Parkinson with Justin Bennett as Rovers looked to get a foothold on the game.
Despite the change, the Bantams were the team to come closest to scoring again before the break but Rovers went into the interval two goals behind.
At the start of the second half, another change came with Charlie Petch making way for Faris Khan as Rovers looked to half the deficit, but with the visitors pushing forward, the hosts took advantage of gaps at the back just before the hour mark.
Youmbi cut inside from the right, carried the ball inside the box and drilled the ball into the bottom corner at the near post to put City three goals to the good.
Owen Scattergood then made way for Harry Wood with Sinclair looking to add more fire power up front, only to see Bradford’s relentless attacking pressure keep on coming.
Into the last half an hour, Bryant was forced into a great save with his feet to deny a fourth goal, but just moments later it was put in vain.
The Bantams played a deep cross in from the right wing for Ibbitson to jump highest and put the ball into the back of the net to double his tally for the day and give his side a fourth.
Then, late on Harry Wood received the ball on the left for Rovers and closed in on goal but the attacker slipped as he took the shot on and the ball rolled wide.
After that, Rovers gave there all to try and stop the deficit being extended even further, but tired legs told and Sam Bentley notched in a fifth and final Bradford goal in the last minute of the game.
The youth team will now look to regroup and bounce back as they prepare to travel to Grimsby Town in the EFL Youth Alliance League on Saturday March 11.