Bradford (Park Avenue) produced a valiant display to earn a point against playoff contenders Gainsborough Trinity at the Northolme in the Blue Square Bet North.
An early goal from the Blues’ striker Paul Connor gave his side the lead after eight minutes. However, Bradford fought their way back into the game, and a stunning effort from Richard Marshall in the second half levelled the score.
John Deacey made one change from the starting eleven that defeated Workington AFC. The Avenue welcomed back left back Martin Drury, and the long serving defender replaced Tom Corner, who suffered a slight knock to his ankle. However, the young striker was named on the bench.
A bright start from the visitors saw the Avenue try to take an early advantage. Despite no notable attempts within the opening five minutes, Bradford were looking to get the ball out to their wingmen to cause problems for the Blues’ defence.
Shortly after, Gainsborough Trinity took the lead. A long ball from goalkeeper Jason White was neatly flicked on from midfielder Craig Nelthorpe, which was controlled by his team mate Paul Connor, and the striker slotted the ball past the visitors goalkeeper John Lamb from 10 yards.
Immediately from the restart, the Avenue came close to equalising. A driving run from Richard Marshall saw the makeshift striker square the ball across the box, and Alex Davidson’s half volley was pushed up in the air by Jason White, and his rebound was nodded over from close range.
Despite trailing, John Deacey’s men were looking confident in attack. The Avenue midfielder Nathan Hotte managed to keep hold of possession under pressure. Eventually, Hotte laid the ball inside to Jordan Deacey who was challenged, and from the loose ball, Hotte struck an effort towards goal which was deflected wide.
Once more, Bradford signalled their intent to attack the Blues’ defence. A long ball from John Lamb was flicked on by Marshall, and, again, Hotte spotted the chance to shoot, but his curling effort drifted over from 18 yards.
The home side came close to doubling their lead after a mistake from the Bradford defence. Another long ball from the goalkeeper saw a missed header by the Avenue centre back Adam Clayton. Following the error, goalscorer Paul Connor nodded the ball onto Jamie Yates, but the number nine took a poor first touch allowing Lamb to gather from his feet.
With ten minutes remaining of the first half, Jason White was called into action. A corner from Deacey fell back into the midfielder’s feet, and his powerful drive from inside the box was parried by the Blues’ stopper. Despite his good effort, no Bradford player anticipated the rebound, and the ball was cleared.
In an entertaining game, the home side were looking dangerous on the counter attack. The impressive Nelthorpe tapped the ball inside to Hawkridge, but his right footed effort was deflected wide.
From the resulting corner, the Avenue managed to break and had four players against two defenders. A cross field pass from Paul Walker was controlled by Davidson onto his left boot, but, the winger saw his shot saved by White from 12 yards.
With half time approaching, Steve Housham’s men were still causing problems from a direct route. A long ball was flicked by Connor into the path of Hawkridge, but the number eleven dragged his effort wide from 14 yards.
HALF TIME: GAINSBOROUGH TRINITY 1-0 BRADFORD (PARK AVENUE)
After the break, Bradford came even closer to levelling the scores. The Avenue worked the ball down the left wing, and the Blues’ defender Luke Waterfall was dispossessed by Jordan Deacey, but his right footed shot was tipped wide by White from ten yards.
A minute later, the hosts were on the attack again. A throw in from right back Dominic Roma was passed inside by substitute Bradley Barraclough to Hawkridge, and his low drive went wide.
Before an hour played, Bradford equalised. With little build up play, the ball bounced favourably for Richard Marshall. The number nine produced another stunning effort to add to his collection, as he looped the ball over White from 25 yards.
Later, some of the home fans felt aggrieved by a referee decision. A flighted free kick from Josh Wilde drifted into the box, and some of the Northolme supporters thought Danny Hone was impeded by an Avenue defender as he headed over from eight yards.
With the scores level, both sides were searching for the win. The Northolme outfit were able to get the ball to their midfielder Simon Russell who turned inside Deacey. However, the number seven’s left footed effort was deflected over by Hotte from distance.
As the game fell into its last ten minutes, Bradford tried to gain the advantage. A flag kick from Deacey was floated into the box and White misjudged the delivery, only for substitute Tom Corner to head over from six yards.
Furthermore, the Avenue were looking to score the elusive second goal. The men in green and white managed to get the ball to Davidson on the edge of the box, but his low effort was expertly saved by White with Corner lurking for a rebound.
The visitors continued to put pressure on their opponents. The Avenue goalscorer Richard Marshall dribbled with the ball, and his powerful strike from 20 yards was spilled by White, and Deacey’s rebound was side footed wide.
With two minutes left, the Blues’ almost took the lead. The home side spotted the unmarked Terry Hawkridge on the edge of the box, and his drive was caught by Lamb from distance.
As the game went into added time, Gainsborough Trinity came close to snatching a late winner. A long throw from Roma was flicked by substitute Darryn Stamp to Conal Platt, but his effort went straight into the hands of Lamb.
FULL TIME: GAINSBOROUGH TRINITY 1-1 BRADFORD (PARK AVENUE)
Gainsborough Trinity: White, Roma, Wilde, Waterfall, Hone, Thompson, Russell, Nelthorpe (Platt 60), Yates (Barraclough 45), Connor (Stamp 73), Hawkridge.
Subs not used: Young, Clarke.
Scorers: Connor (8)
Bradford (Park Avenue):Lamb, Duckworth, Drury, Price, Knowles, Clayton (Corner 45), Davidson, Hotte, Marshall, Deacey, Walker (Savory 69).
Subs not used: Holland, Daly, Jackson.
Scorers: Marshall (59)
Bookings: Price, Hotte, Knowles