Bradford Park Avenue and Harrogate Town shared the spoils in an entertaining goalless draw at the Horsfall Stadium.
Neither keeper was overly worked in a first-half of few chances. But a much more open second-half saw both sides nearly grab a vital victory with late opportunities, the best of which falling in injury time to ex Town striker, Paul Beesley, who fired over the bar from close range before Dominic Rowe’s last minute flick past the Avenue goalkeeper John Lamb trickled agonisingly wide of the post.
John Deacey’s men seemed to be rallied by their midweek victory over Workington AFC as they set the tempo in the early stages of the game, playing neat football despite the tough conditions.
However, it was the visitors that created the first chance of the half as Leigh Franks spotted Lamb off his line and released an early effort at the near post. But the Avenue keeper recovered well to catch the ball as it fizzed towards the top corner.
As the half progressed, both sides worked tirelessly to press the ball, allowing no time and space in a congested midfield. But, it was Simon Weaver’s side who managed to take control of the game, having the better of the chances before the half time whistle. The Avenue right-back Grant Black produced a vital interception as he headed Anton Brown’s drive from ten yards for a corner, just moments from the interval.
With five minutes of the second half on the clock, ex Town favourite, Chib Chilaka, split the visiting defence in half with a pinpoint pass to the wide left for winger Paul Walker to gather, before charging towards the byline. But, with an opportunity to swing in a cross to a man in green and white in the box, Walker mishit and sliced the ball out of play for a goal kick.
The away side were quick to respond with a chance of their own as the powerful Adam Nowakowski slipped a delicate ball through to Rowe, who lashed first time across the six yard box, narrowly avoiding the outstretched leg of former Avenue striker Chris Hall.
Minutes later, the influential James Knowles showed determination to track back and deny substitute Joe Ironside a clear shot on goal with a superbly timed sliding tackle following an intricate passing move from Town.
Pressing for a late winner, the Avenue captain Nathan Hotte pounced on to a loose ball in the Harrogate Town half and fainted a strike before switching the ball wide right to Black. Remaining calm, the full-back touched the ball out of his feet before swinging in a dangerous cross to Walker at the far post, who rose above the defenders to nod a powerful header inches over the bar.
As the game drew to its end, both sides nearly snatched a dramatic winner to claim all three points.
Similar to the earlier chance, Black received the ball on the right before delivering deep to Walker, who rose again to intelligently cushion the header down to the feet of Beesley. But, the striker lashed at his shot and blazed a volley over the bar.
Wasting no time, the visitors went long from the resulting goal kick and found the feet of Hall, who controlled well before cutting sharply inside and offloading a precise pass releasing Rowe one on one with Lamb. But the Avenue keeper rushed off his line and hurried the striker into a first time effort that rolled inches wide of the far post.
Bradford (Park Avenue): Lamb, Black, Drury, Price, Knowles, Qualter, Deacey, Hotte (capt), Chilaka (Beesley 81), Marshall, Walker.
Subs not used: Maxfield, Clayton, Howarth, Hume.
Harrogate Town: MacGillvray, Samuels, Merris, Brown, Heath (capt), Franks (Mallory 60), Rowe, Nowakowski, Hall, Worsfold (Ironside 57), Clayton (Sellars 68).
Subs not used: Bolder, Woods.