Ten men Bradford (Park Avenue) suffered their first defeat of the season, losing to Stalybridge Celtic at the Horsfall Stadium.
Due to the long injury list, John Deacey had limited options available. However, James Riley was passed fit after suffering a swollen ankle on Saturday. The only change to the starting eleven saw Tom Greaves replacing the injured Adam Clayton.
The home side nearly found themselves a goal behind to the quick thinking of Stalybridge Celtic. The visitors were awarded a free kick in their own half, and midfielder Greg Wilkinson caught Tim Deasy off his line, with a superb chip, only for the goal to be disallowed as it was an indirect free kick.
The opening twenty minutes were largely dominated by the visitors, as Adam Pepper and Mitchell Austin tested Tim Deasy from long range.
At the same time, Bradford’s midfielder Jordan Deacey was shown a yellow card for a late challenge on Mark Lees.
After 16 minutes, their pressure was rewarded with a goal. The left back Jonny Lindsay surged forward and crossed the ball to the back post, and Corey Gregory nodded the ball down for his fellow striker Jack Laird, to fire underneath Deasy from 10 yards.
However, six minutes later, the Avenue found their way back into the game, and equalised. The home side’s right back Liam Wakefield found his winger Tom Greaves, who neatly cut inside, to lay the ball to Paul Walker, and the impressive forward exquisitely chipped Alex Cairns from 18 yards.
After the goal, the home side were appearing eager to take the lead before half time. But, John Deacey’s side were unable to a grab a second goal, despite headers from James Riley and Danny Holland failing to hit the net.
Shortly before the whistle, the away side nearly took the lead, as a quick counter attack ended with Corey Gregory skimming the crossbar from 18 yards.
HALF TIME: BRADFORD (PARK AVENUE) 1-1 STALYBRIDGE CELTIC
But, three minutes after the break, the home side were reduced to ten men. After receiving a yellow card in the first half, Jordan Deacey tripped midfielder Adam Pepper, and referee Darren England reached into his pocket to issue a second yellow card, followed by a red.
Nevertheless, three minutes later, the Avenue came close to scoring their second goal. Bradford’s striker Danny Holland flicked a header into the feet of Tom Greaves, and the number seven cut inside, but, saw his left footed effort saved low by the diving Alex Cairns.
Despite chances at both goals, it was the visitors who made their extra man advantage count. A cross to the back post found substitute Jamie Mullan, and his low left footed cross, was smashed into the roof of the net by Greg Wilkinson from six yards.
On the other hand, a minute later, the majority of the fans within the stadium nearly witnessed their side, score an equaliser. Bradford’s Liam Wakefield found himself in an advanced position, and crossed the ball into the path of Danny Holland, only for the striker to turn and strike a powerful effort against the crossbar from 14 yards.
The victory for Stalybridge Celtic was secured with a third and final goal. Once again, Mullan caused the Bradford defence problems, and his cross was half cleared by goalkeeper Tim Deasy, but, another substitute, Callum Warburton hit a shot into the top corner from 12 yards.
Bradford pushed forward to try and stage a remarkable finish to the game. However, Liam Wakefield’s looping header was cleared off the line by goalscorer Greg Wilkinson, and furthermore, Richard Marshall was unable to find the net with two long range efforts.
FULL TIME: BRADFORD (PARK AVENUE) 1-3 STALYBRIDGE CELTIC
Bradford (Park Avenue): Deasy, Wakefield, Drury, Marshall, Knowles, Riley, Greaves, O’Brien, Holland, Deacey, Walker.
Subs not used: James, Dempsey, Iqbal, Hume, Higginson.
Bookings: Deacey (2), Knowles, Drury
Sent off: Deacey
Scorer: Walker (22)
Stalybridge Celtic: Cairns, Lees, Lindsay, Ryan, Bembo-Leta, Barrow (Mullan 58), Pepper, Wilkinson, Laird (Sherriff 63), Gregory, Austin (Warburton 65).
Subs not used: Platt, Mudimu.
Bookings: Barrow, Lindsay, Pepper
Scorers: Laird (16), Wilkinson (70), Warburton (78)