A stoppage-time goal from Iain Howard sealed victory for Stockport County against Bradford (Park Avenue) at the Horsfall Stadium.
On a cold evening, both teams could not separated on the scoreboard in the first half. After the break, County were awarded a penalty and captain Phil Jevons sent the Avenue goalkeeper John Lamb the wrong way to give his side the lead. Into the minimum of three minutes added time, the hosts pushed every outfield player up for a late corner, but a clearance fell to Howard who took the ball around Lamb and slotted the ball home.
Alan Lord’s side created a wealth of opportunities in the first half. In an attempt to take an early lead, an Adriano Moke corner was headed out as far as Tunji Moses, who controlled before firing at goal from 20 yards, only to find Lamb in great form to parry the ball behind.
Winger Moke looked a constant threat with his direct running, and nearly put his side in front with two efforts. The first was of all his making, darting in between the Avenue defence to strike high and wide from just inside the box. Just before the half-hour, another piercing run was found by Rhys Oates, but Moke blazed over as he closed in on Lamb’s goal.
The home side were forced into a direct game and their only first-half effort came when right back Grant Black hit the bar with a mishit cross.
County continued to dominate, and after Jamie Price slipped as he attempted to clear a Moke cross, the ball fell to Oates, however, his low drive was expertly saved by Lamb from close range.
The Avenue introduced Chib Chilaka at the break, replacing Jacob Hazel, who was making his debut for the hosts, and he immediately stretched the County defensive line with a run which Danny Glover picked out, but the substitute was denied by Christian Dibble, who turned his shot behind for a corner with the help of the post.
A minute later, Dibble, who had been a spectator for the most part of the first-half, was alert to make a flying save from a powerful Nicky Boshell strike.
Despite a bright opening to the second-half, the Avenue were unable to score a vital goal, and County came close to taking the advantage. Again, Oates went close for the visitors as he picked up the ball on the half-way line before arcing a run across the defence and towards goal, but blazed over after working himself into a shooting position.
The striker was causing trouble again a minute later, when the Avenue’s centre back Ryan Qualter brought him down in the penalty area to give away a spot-kick. Phil Jevons stepped up and sent Lamb the wrong way to rapturous celebrations from the travelling fans.
The travelling County supporters were almost celebrating again a minute later, when Lamb failed to control an awkward backpass. allowing Howard to receive the ball. The winger’s shot beat the goalkeeper but Adam Clayton put himself in a good position to stop the effort and clear.
John Deacey’s men searched for an equaliser, but after a Richard Marshall shot was well saved by Dibble in the County goal, the home side left themselves open at the back from a corner. From the resulting delivery the ball was cleared to Howard, who ran half the open pitch to round Lamb and score an incisive breakaway goal.
Bradford (Park Avenue): Lamb, Black, Price (Gardner 77), Marshall, Qualter, Clayton, Hazel (Chilaka 45), Howarth (Beesley 77), Glover, Boshell, Walker.
Subs not used: Maxfield, Deacey.
Stockport County: Dibble, Jacobs, Duxbury, Moses, Cowen, Lees, Moke (Dickinson 64), Churchman, Oates, Jevons, Howard.
Subs not used: Lofthouse, O’Halloran, Charnock, Fagbola.
Scorers: Jevons (pen 74), Oates (90).