Bradford (Park Avenue) survived a late second half fightback to complete a league double against Gloucester City at The Abbey Business Stadium.
The Avenue led at the break with goals from Jordan Deacey and Adam Clayton. After half time, the visitors extended their lead as Alex Davidson slotted the ball past Mike Green from 12 yards. However, the hosts staged a dramatic finale with goals from Matt Groves and Will Morford, but John Deacey’s men held on to take three points.
The Avenue manager made one change from the starting eleven that thrashed Worcester City 6-1 at the Horsfall Stadium. Making his debut in Avenue colours, Danny Glover took the place of Paul Beesley. New signing Ryan Qualter took his place on the bench alongside the returning Richard Marshall from suspension.
In a tight opening ten minutes, neither side were able to create any notable goalscoring opportunities.
However, the Avenue threatened as debutant Glover swept the ball out to Davidson on the right before the winger charged into the box, but left-back Marcus Giglio denied a shot on goal.
Shortly after, the Avenue’s Nicky Boshell signalled to the bench with an injury and was promptly replaced by Marshall.
Nevertheless, the hosts fought back as Groves swivelled on the edge of the box but curled a left-footed shot just wide from 25 yards.
Then, the visitors took the lead. After picking up a loose ball, Jamie Price struck a wild shot wide, 30 yards from goal, but the ball stayed in play and was picked up by Hotte, who cut the ball back to Deacey, and the midfielder turned before striking a right-footed effort into the far corner.
The second goal quickly followed for the Avenue. After a fierce right-footed attempt from Glover drew a save from Green, Deacey’s lofted flag-kick was headed home by Adam Clayton.
The Avenue were denied a third goal by the linesman’s flag for offside. Paul Walker managed to dribble past his marker and pulled the ball back to substitute Marshall, who smashed in from close range, but his celebrations were cut short.
At the opposite end of the pitch, Dave Mehew’s men came close to reducing the visitors advantage. Firstly, the Avenue goalkeeper John Lamb denied Darren Mullings with a fingertip save before Lewis Hogg’s volley flew wide from 25 yards.
Then, the away side created an opportunity to add a third. Matt Coupe’s slip allowed Marshall to break, but the midfielder unselfishly offloaded to Glover, and his deflected shot went wide from 20 yards.
Before the break, the home side were unable to convert two chances to reduce the arrears. Mullings charged past Clayton on the left flank and fired a ball across goal, but, Darren Edwards’ right-footed attempt went wide in front of an empty net from six yards.
Just before the whistle, Hogg skipped past Nathan Hotte and clipped a delicate ball to Edwards, but James Knowles tracked back to block his effort from the edge of the box.
A bright start to the second half saw chances at either end.
Immediately from the kick-off, a sharp passing move between Marshall and Glover left the midfielder in enough space to release a shot that was comfortably saved by Green.
After Marshall’s effort, the Tigers pushed numbers forward and the impressive Mullings broke into the box before rifling a shot directly at Lamb.
With a two-goal lead, the Avenue continued to trouble their opponents defence. Captain Hotte sprinted 50 yards with possession and slipped the ball to Glover, but his early strike was blocked by Jack Harris.
Then, the Avenue added a third goal to the scoreline.
Again, Glover was the target man for the visitors, and the striker turned inside before playing a reverse ball through to Davidson who dummied left to offset the defender’s balance, and placed a low right-footed shot past Green from 14 yards.
Shortly after Davidson’s goal, Marshall came close to extending the Avenue’s advantage. After finding space behind his marker, the midfielder tried to catch the goalkeeper off his line with an audacious chip, but Green was able to get a fingertip to his effort.
But, the home side deservedly scored their first goal of the game. Groves collected the ball and cut inside onto his left foot and fired a low shot past Lamb from 20 yards.
Following the goal, the home side were searching for a second, but, the Avenue looked dangerous on the counter attack. Following the introduction of Qualter, making his debut since signing from Ossett Town, attempts from Marshall and Beesley were kept out by Green in the Tigers goal.
With the final whistle approaching, Will Morford’s header created a tense finish. A dangerous cross from Groves found the substitute at the far post, who nodded the ball past Lamb from close range.
Gloucester City: M.Green, M.Green, Giglio, Coupe, Harris, Hogg, Parker (Turl 54), Mullings, Edwards (Liddiard 72), Wilson (Morford 72), Groves.
Subs not used: Phillips, Binns.
Scorers: Groves (79), Morford (88).
Bradford (Park Avenue): Lamb, Howarth, Knowles, Price, Clayton, Boshell (Marshall 16), Davidson (Qualter 84), Hotte, Glover (Beesley 72), Deacey, Walker.
Subs not used: Maxfield, Chilaka.
Scorers: Deacey (21), Clayton (24), Davidson (64).