AFC Telford United remained top of The Skrill North with a hard fought victory against Bradford (Park Avenue) at the New Bucks Head Stadium.
After a goalless first-half, Liam Watson’s side took the lead as Andy Owens’ header from eight yards found the top corner. Shortly after, the Bucks extended their advantage as Adam Farrell added a second from the penalty spot. In a tense finish, the Avenue substitute Danny Glover capitalised on a defensive error to cut the deficit, but the visitors couldn’t find a vital equaliser.
For the Avenue, Martin Drury returned to the starting eleven from a serious knee injury and took his familiar number three jersey. Also, recent signing Jimmy Eyles from Ossett Town was named on the bench.
In the early minutes. the home side looked dangerous on the attack and were close to taking an early lead.
A cross from winger Mike Phenix squirmed across the box but Farrell’s left-footed effort flew over the bar.
Shortly after, a long diagonal ball from Mike Grogan was collected by Phenix, who beat Drury for pace, but his fizzed effort was tipped wide by the Avenue goalkeeper Lamb. From the resulting corner, Simon Grand rose above his marker, but Drury blocked his header on the line.
But, the Avenue couldn’t convert a chance to take the advantage. A neat header from Paul Walker through a gap in the defence was toe-poked by Chib Chilaka which struck goalkeeper Ryan Young in the chest. Then, the ball fell into the path of Nicky Boshell, but his close range effort failed to find the bottom corner from eight yards.
Once more, the home side threatened Lamb’s goal. A long throw-in caused problems inside the box, and Farrell was unable to get an effort on target, but his pass was blazed over by Grand from close range.
Before the break, the Avenue nearly broke the deadlock.
After Chilaka was unable to fire a shot, Deacey took control and his quick footwork allowed the midfielder a chance to strike at goal, but his shot flew over from 10 yards.
A few minutes later, Walker created space for himself on the edge of the box, and his right-footed shot stung the palms of Young from 25 yards.
At the opposite end of the pitch, the Bucks tried to catch the visitors on the counter-attack as Grogan’s low shot ricocheted off Jamie Price’s legs and narrowly wide from 20 yards.
After the break, Liam Watson brought on Alan Moogan in place of Charlie Barnett. And, from the kick-off, Phenix fed the Bucks’ striker Owens but his left-footed effort drifted wide.
Then, a deep cross found Grand at the far post, and his header looked destined to nestle in the net. But, defender Ryan Qualter was alert to head the ball from underneath his bar and away from danger.
Seconds later, John Deacey’s men had three against three, and Boshell delivered a teasing cross into the box, but Walker’s flicked header trickled wide of Young’s far post.
Again, the away side continued to show their attacking style of play, as Deacey threaded the ball to Chilaka, but his right-footed shot was saved by the strong hand of Young.
After sustained pressure, the Bucks took the lead. Substitute Matty McGinn delivered a fine cross towards Owens, and the striker’s looping header found the top corner, despite Lamb at full-stretch.
Nevertheless, the Avenue’s players didn’t let their heads drop. Boshell held up the ball and laid an inside pass to Drury, but his powerful left-footed effort was tipped over by Young from 12 yards.
The Avenue were searching the equaliser, but were unable to find a way past the impressive Bucks goalkeeper as efforts from Chilaka, Walker and Deacey failed to find the net.
And then, the hosts punished their opponents to double their advantage. A floated ball down the right wing saw Lamb rush off his line to meet the ball but instead, fouled Phenix inside the box, and the referee awarded a spot-kick. Farrell sent the Avenue goalkeeper the wrong way from the penalty spot.
From the kick-off, the Avenue continued to show their determination to get back into the game.
Boshell collected the ball and skipped past his marker, creating space to curl a delicious left-footed effort from 25 yards, but Young produced another excellent save.
Eventually, the away side were rewarded with their positive play with a goal. A slip from Dan Preston allowed substitute Glover the chance to get on the end of the loose ball and rounded Young to slot the ball into the unguarded net from 10 yards.
With the final whistle approaching, both teams were looking to get on the scoresheet for different reasons.
Sean Clancy, who was introduced as a substitute for Phenix, had the chance to seal victory for his side, but his effort blazed over from inside the penalty area.
Into the final seconds, the Avenue were denied a goal by the same player. A corner from Deacey found Marshall, and the midfielder unleashed a left-footed strike, but Clancy crucially blocked his effort from close range.
AFC Telford United: Young, Baynes, Lever (McGinn 51) Preston, Grand, Grogan, Phenix (Clancy 70), Barnett (Moogan 45), Owens, Farrell, Whalley.
Subs not used: Pryce, Gray.
Scorer: Owens (55), Farrell (68).
Bradford (Park Avenue): Lamb, Black, Drury (Maxfield 74), Marshall, Qualter, Price, Deacey, Hotte, Walker, Boshell (Eyles 70), Chilaka (Glover 70).
Subs not used: Howarth, Beesley.
Scorer: Glover (82).