Bradford (Park Avenue) were denied a late victory in a thrilling second half against Altrincham at the Horsfall Stadium in the Blue Square Bet North.
The Avenue manager John Deacey handed a start to Jamie Jackson after his recent impressive performances and midfielder Ross Daly returned to the starting line up. Meanwhile, both Matty James and Adam Baker dropped to the bench.
On a windy evening at the Horsfall Stadium, the Avenue had the first opportunity to take the lead. A foul on midfielder Jordan Deacey allowed Richard Marshall the chance to score, but his effort was blocked by the visitors wall and the ball was cleared by the Altrincham defence.
Ten minutes later, Bradford were able to get the first effort on target and trouble the Robins’ goalkeeper Stuart Coburn. A diagonal pass from Ross Daly was controlled by his winger Paul Walker, who cut inside right back Scott Leather and struck a low shot which was well pushed away by Coburn.
However, the away side came close to taking an early advantage. A loose pass from Walker was intercepted by Altrincham winger Shaun Densmore, but his low effort from 16 yards was saved by Bradford’s number one John Lamb.
From the resulting corner, the visitors were awarded a penalty by the referee. The Robins left back Matt Doughty stepped up and was denied by Lamb who saved the penalty.
Despite a lack of goalscoring opportunities, both sides were working hard in difficult weather conditions. With ten minutes left of the first half, the Avenue saw a free kick from Deacey met by captain Nathan Hotte, but the midfielder was unable to keep his shot down from close range.
The wind nearly helped the home side from another free kick. A foul on Bradford’s left back Jamie Price saw Deacey attempt to cross the ball into the box, but his delivery, flew towards goal and Coburn managed to push the ball over the bar.
HALF TIME: BRADFORD (PARK AVENUE) 0-0 ALTRINCHAM
After the break, Altrincham had the wind behind them. A deep free kick from striker Damian Reeves was delivered towards the penalty spot but, Lamb dived to push the ball wide.
Nevertheless, Bradford scored the opening goal of the game. A long free kick from Lamb was expertly controlled by Marshall, and the number four composed himself to place the ball past Coburn from 12 yards.
A minute later, Lee Sinnott’s men nearly levelled the scoreboard. A corner from Doughty was flicked into the feet of Reeves, but the Robins number ten was unable to direct the ball past Lamb from close range.
Once again, Marshall was looking to add a second goal for his side. A fine move saw Jamie Jackson’s neat flick find right back Michael Duckworth on the right wing. The youngster’s cross was met by the Avenue goalscorer but Coburn was able to catch his header.
The fifth placed side were becoming more dangerous on the attack. A quick passing move from the Robins saw captain Shaun Densmore deliver a teasing cross and substitute Jake Moult struck the ball first time, only for Lamb to tip his effort over the bar.
From the resulting corner, Altrincham equalised. A deep delivery was picked up by James Lawrie at the far post, and the striker curled a right footed effort into the top corner from 18 yards.
As the game was approaching its final five minutes, Jordan Deacey scored a goal that will be remembered by many Bradford supporters to give his side the lead. The Avenue midfielder controlled the ball and dribbled past several Altrincham players, and the number ten struck a right footed effort past Coburn from 20 yards.
A minute later, the score was level again. Altrincham were awarded a free kick and Lawrie’s inswinging delivery was nodded by defender Gianluca Havern past the Bradford goalkeeper to the delight of the travelling Altrincham supporters.
Shortly after their goal, the away side nearly took the lead for the first time in the match. A fine run from Lawrie allowed the striker to square the ball to Reeves, but his side footed effort whistled wide of the post.
With four minutes of additional time indicated, the home side were awarded a free kick on the edge of the box, following a foul on Deacey. However, from distance, Marshall’s effort flew over the bar.
Somehow, John Deacey’s men were denied a late victory. After good work from Duckworth, his cross was controlled by Marshall who spotted Hotte with a pass, but the midfielder’s powerful effort was superbly saved by the Robins goalkeeper from close range.
FULL TIME: BRADFORD (PARK AVENUE) 2-2 ALTRINCHAM
Bradford (Park Avenue): Lamb, Duckworth, Price (Holland 86), Marshall, Ryan, Clayton, Jackson, Hotte (c), Daly (Baker 77), Deacey, Walker.
Subs not used: James, Davidson, Hume.
Scorers: Marshall (56), Deacey (83)
Bookings: Hotte, Hume
Altrincham: Coburn, Leather (Moult 50), Doughty, Rodgers, Havern, Hall, Densmore (c), Boshell, Lawrie, Reeves, Clee (Watmore 72)
Subs not used: Lacey, Brooke, McMillan.
Scorers: Lawrie (73), Havern (84)
Bookings: Leather, Moult.