Bradford City Under-19s extended their lead at the top of the EFL Youth Alliance North East division to eight points - with an emphatic 7-1 victory over Rotherham United in their opening ‘merit’ fixture.
Martin Drury’s young Bantams blew the fourth-placed Millers away with a dominant showing at Bradford (Park Avenue)’s Horsfall Community Stadium, in a game which included five goals in the opening 35 minutes.
After a mightily tenacious opening with both sides enjoying their fair share of possession, it was City who took the lead in the seventh minute, when a dainty run from Bobby Pointon found full-back Louie Chorlton who powerfully slotted home.
Drury’s side doubled their lead soon after when captain Charlie Wood netted from close range after a neat cut-back from left-back Oliver Norman.
The South Yorkshire outfit, who finished the regular campaign 12 points behind City, replied moments later as a free-kick found its way to Adam Clark who halved the deficit.
City responded almost immediately, however, to restore their two-goal cushion. A tidy spell of possession in and around the area culminated with Norman getting in on the act himself, seeing his sharp right-footed effort ripple the net.
The Bantams’ left-hand side appeared the main area for creating chances. Jack Wilson saw a right-footed shot sail over the bar and minutes later the No.11 turned the Millers full-back to set up Cole Roberts, though his effort was well denied by goalkeeper Nat Ford as the hosts continued to attack.
City’s domination saw them grab a fourth 10 minutes before half-time, with 16-year-old Freddy Jeffreys catching the Rotherham ‘keeper off his line and lobbing a 30-yard effort straight into the net.
The home side were not finished there, and continued to look for goals after the break. After a low, driven shot from Wilson found the arms of the Millers shot stopper, the Bantams grabbed their fifth of the day and the 60th of the league season through Dylan Youmbi.
The No.9 headed from Chorlton’s pinpoint cross and, despite seeing his initial effort saved by Ford in goal, eventually bundled across the line.
The physical presence of Yahaya Tunkara in the second half, who came on for Charlie Wood at the break, seemed to almost elevate an already authoritative performance. Just after the hour, Wilson finally made it onto the scoresheet as his right-footed shot flew into the top-right corner leaving the goalkeeper with no chance.
Rather poetically, City made it 7-1 in the 71st minute. Wilson grabbed his second of the match after a nice lay-off from Roberts found the No.11, who rifled a right-footed shot in off the post to round-off the scoring.
The young Bantams now travel to second-placed Grimsby Town next weekend, knowing a victory will see them crowned EFL Youth Alliance champions for the first time since the 2013/14 campaign.
CITY: Heath Richardson; Louie Chorlton, Oliver Norman, Freddy Jeffreys, George Thewlis, Bobby Pointon, Charlie Wood (Yahaya Tunkara 45’), Dylan Youmbi (Raekealan Jeffers 84’), Cole Roberts (booked 22’), Jack Wilson. Subs (not used): Harry Ambler, Ian Kamga, Tanaka Maumbe.
GOALS: Chorlton (7’), Wood (15’), Norman (18’), Jeffreys (35’), Youmbi (58’), Wilson (61’, 71’).
ROTHERHAM: Nat Ford; Mason Booth (Sam Greenhouse 66’); Will Jenkinson (Zack Bond 66’), MacKenzie Warne, Billy Carroll, Archie Day, Kanye Nesbitt (booked 42’) Hamish Douglas, Adam Clark, Curtis Durose (c), Joel Holvey.Subs (not used): Alfie Burnett, Jake Champion, Ben Hatton.
GOALS: Clark (16’).