Ten-man Bradford (Park Avenue) produced a remarkable second half comeback to draw against Oxford City at the Horsfall Stadium.
The visitors scored three goals before half time from Mike Symonds, Tom Winters and Jamie Cook. Meanwhile, the Avenue centre back Adam Clayton was sent off in the first half. John Deacey introduced Nicky Boshell and Louie Swain after the break, and both players had an immediate impact, as Boshell converted Swain’s cross. Alex Davidson reduced the arrears before new signing Steve Mallory scored a last minute equaliser.
For the visit of Mike Ford’s men, John Deacey made changes from the draw at Stalybridge Celtic. The Avenue manager gave a debut to Steve Mallory in place of Chris Howarth who dropped to the bench. Also, Alex Davidson and Nathan Hotte returned to the starting eleven, replacing Chib Chilaka and Charlie Clamp. Meanwhile, Louie Swain and Nicky Boshell recovered from injury to take a seat amongst the substitutes.
The Avenue nearly took an early lead. A throw in from left back Jason St Juste was struck first time by Richard Marshall, but his curling effort narrowly went over the crossbar from 25 yards.
A minute later, the visitors responded. A short pass from striker Jamie Cook found midfielder Darren Pond and his right-footed effort went wide with the Avenue goalkeeper John Lamb stood still on his line.
However, the Avenue midfielder Ross Daly saw an effort blocked from close range. The home side worked their way from their own half and Daly looked to curl the ball past goalkeeper Mark Scott, but his right-footed shot was well blocked by the defence.
Then, the away side took the lead. A cross from winger Tom Winters was met by former Worcester City striker Mike Symonds, and his header found the bottom corner.
Five minutes later, Mike Ford’s men extended their advantage. A through ball to Symonds allowed the striker to play a fine pass to Winters who struck the ball past Lamb from eight yards.
Shortly after the second goal, the home side were denied by an excellent save. A good run from Alex Davidson allowed the winger to cross, but Walker’s header was expertly tipped over by Scott.
The afternoon got worse for the home side as Adam Clayton was sent off for a dangerous foul on Darren Pond.
The away side added a third goal from another Tom Winters cross. The number eleven delivered a ball into the penalty area, and striker Jamie Cook directed a header into the bottom corner.
Before half time, Mike Symonds came close to scoring his second goal of the afternoon. A diagonal ball from Saul Williams found Winters, and his left-footed delivery was struck by Symonds, but his effort was cleared off the line by St Juste.
HALF TIME: BRADFORD (PARK AVENUE) 0-3 OXFORD CITY
After the break, John Deacey replaced St Juste and Tom Corner with Nicky Boshell and Louie Swain.
A minute into the second half, the Avenue nearly scored. After winning possession, Walker spotted Swain inside the box, but the striker fired an effort over the bar.
With the home side down to ten men, the visitors were continuing to find the extra man. However, after poor defending from the Avenue, Williams’ shot flew over the bar from six yards.
The introduction of Swain brought instant success for the Avenue. The striker on loan from Bradford City delivered a teasing cross and substitute Nicky Boshell converted home from close range.
With nearly 20 minutes remaining, the Avenue scored to reduce the visitors advantage. A deep cross from Hotte was brought down by Alex Davidson, and his left-footed strike from inside the box flew past Scott.
With full time approaching, John Deacey’s men were looking for an equaliser and created several opportunities. The Avenue’s new signing Steve Mallory impressed at centre back in the second half and nearly provided an assist for a third goal. The former Farsley AFC man delivered a free kick, but Hotte’s bicycle kick went over the crossbar.
The home side continued to trouble Oxford City. A corner spotted Boshell at the far post, and his pass was struck by Mallory, but his right-footed effort flew over the goal from 18 yards.
However, Mallory scored a last minute equaliser. A corner was delivered and the makeshift centre back rose above his marker to head the ball home at the near post.
FULL TIME: BRADFORD (PARK AVENUE) 3-3 OXFORD CITY
Bradford (Park Avenue): Lamb, Mallory, St Juste (Boshell 45), Marshall (Howarth 80), Knowles, Clayton, Davidson, Hotte (capt), Daly, Corner (Swain 45), Walker.
Subs not used: Clamp, Quinn.
Scorers: Boshell (51), Davidson (69), Mallory (90+1)
Sent Off: Clayton (29)
Oxford City: Scott, Clifton (Benjamin 55), Stonehouse, McNish, Learoyd, Wilmott (capt), Williams, Pond, Symonds (Basham 66), Cook (Malone 55), Winters.
Subs not used: Maabdi, Francoz.
Scorers: Symonds (19), Winters (24), Cook (35)