Bradford (Park Avenue) secured an impressive victory in the West Yorkshire derby against FC Halifax Town at the Shay Stadium.
The visitors grabbed the three points in an entertaining game, as another Richard Marshall spectacular strike separated the two sides in the Blue Square Bet North.
The Avenue manager John Deacey was forced into two changes from the starting eleven that thrashed Boston United. The departed James Knowles, who featured in midfield for the home side was replaced by Tim Ryan, making his debut for Bradford. Also, Aiden Savory was handed a starting role, as Jamie Price was unavailable due to suspension.
Despite a cautious start to the game, the first opportunity fell to the home side. An inside pass from striker Danny Glover was controlled by winger Sean Williams, but his weak effort trickled wide from 18 yards.
Again, the home side were looking to take an early advantage. A long ball from the Shaymen’s back four was picked up by Lee Gregory and his right footed effort was easily saved by John Lamb.
Once more, Neil Aspin’s men came close to troubling the Bradford goalkeeper. A flighted free kick was nodded into the path of right back Ryan Toulson, only for his shot to drift wide from ten yards.
However, after 25 minutes played, the Shaymen’s right back Ryan Toulson was sent off. The home side were trying to create an opportunity, but following an incident, Bradford left back Martin Drury fell to the floor and the linesman waved his flag to indicate a foul. With the left back receiving treatment, the right back was shown a red card.
The Avenue were forced into withdrawing the left back, and former FC Halifax Town favourite Danny Holland was the substitute to come on and take a forward role. Therefore, the visitors reshuffled their personnel as Adam Clayton went to right back, Nathan Hotte filling in at centre back and Michael Duckworth switched to left back.
The away side were denied a late first half goal. The Avenue substitute Holland was challenging Danny Lowe for the ball, but the linesman signalled a free kick before the striker slotted the ball past FC Halifax Town goalkeeper Matt Glennon.
Towards the end of the first half, Bradford were awarded a free kick. Both Scott McManus and Aiden Savory were caught tussling on the ground, but, Richard Marshall’s long range effort was blocked and Duckworth’s rebound was caught by Glennon.
Furthermore, John Deacey’s side were increasingly putting pressure on the Shaymen’s defence. A through ball from centre back Adam Clayton was controlled by Alex Davidson, however, his left footed effort skimmed the post from 20 yards.
HALF TIME: FC HALIFAX TOWN 0-0 BRADFORD (PARK AVENUE)
After the break, Neil Aspin introduced Jason St Juste in place of striker Alex Titchiner.
Despite their one man advantage, Bradford were struggling to find any momentum. The visitors were forced into another long range effort, as Davidson tried to drag the ball across Glennon, but the ball went harmlessly wide from 20 yards.
The Avenue were unable to make the most of their best chance of the afternoon. A well worked move involving Marshall and Savory, saw the ball bounce favourably for Holland inside the box, only for his right footed shot to go wide from 12 yards.
As the home side were fighting their way back into the game, Bradford nearly took the lead. A superb diagonal ball from Clayton fell into the feet of Paul Walker, and after cutting inside his marker, his low effort was tipped around the post from 20 yards.
After a sustained amount of pressure, the Avenue took the lead. A pass from Nathan Hotte was gathered by Marshall, and the midfielder unleashed a powerful drive from 25 yards into the bottom corner, with Matt Glennon motionless in the Shaymen goal.
Two minutes later, the Avenue were reduced to ten men like their opponents. Following an early booking in the game, Aiden Savory fouled Scott McManus to earn a second yellow card and therefore dismissed from the field.
With both sides down to ten men, the home crowd were looking to help their team find an equaliser. A quick throw in to Sean Williams allowed the winger enough time to strike a long range shot which was pushed away well by John Lamb.
As the game approached its tense finale, Bradford could have doubled their lead. A through ball from Holland ran perfectly for Davidson, and after dribbling the ball around Glennon, former Avenue captain James Knowles made a fine tackle to deny the number seven scoring.
Soon after, the ball, somehow, trickled wide of the post to the relief of the Avenue. A quick corner from substitute Adriano Moke allowed St Juste to cross, but, the ball evaded everyone and went wide.
The drama continued as FC Halifax Town were kept out by various saves from John Lamb. Firstly, a low cross from Moke was diverted by Tim Ryan towards goal, and Lamb was alert to tip the ball wide for a corner.
From the resulting corner, substitute Dan Gardner turned and fired a shot from close range, but Lamb’s outstretched arm saw the ball fly over the crossbar.
The Shaymen’s third consecutive corner caused problems for the Avenue defence, but again, Lamb was the visitors hero as he saved a fine effort from Matt Pearson inside the area.
Nonetheless, the Avenue held on for a hard fought victory at the Shay Stadium to extend their unbeaten run to seven matches.
FULL TIME: FC HALIFAX TOWN 0-1 BRADFORD (PARK AVENUE)
FC Halifax Town: Glennon, Toulson, McManus, Pearson, Needham, Lowe (c), Williams (Moke 85), Knowles, Titchiner (St Juste 45), Glover (Gardner 57), Gregory.
Subs not used: Senior, A. Jackson
Bookings: McManus, Williams
Sent Off: Toulson
Bradford (Park Avenue): Lamb, Duckworth. Drury (Holland 31), Savory, Ryan, Clayton, Davidson (Daly 90), Hotte, Marshall, Deacey, Walker (Baker 80).
Subs not used: Corner, J. Jackson.
Scorers: Marshall (68)
Bookings: Savory (2), Hotte, Marshall
Sent Off: Savory