Bradford (Park Avenue) fell to their third successive defeat, losing to Hednesford Town at Keys Park in The Skrill North.
The home side took the advantage as Nathan Woolfe’s delivery was converted by Jamey Osborne. In the second half, the Pitmen extended their lead as defender Ben Bailey’s superb right-footed shot flew past the Avenue goalkeeper John Lamb from 25 yards.
John Deacey made four changes to the starting eleven. The Avenue were missing Richard Marshall (virus), Jamie Price (toe), Adam Clayton (groin) and Chib Chilaka was replaced by Scott Maxfield in midfield. Meanwhile, Tom Corner, James Knowles and Nathan Hotte started for the visitors.
The home side came close to taking an early lead. A clearance from the Avenue’s captain Hotte was brought down by Greg Pearson and his low cross found Nathan Woolfe as Jason St Juste missed the ball, and his curling effort forced Lamb into an excellent save from 14 yards.
Shortly after, the Pitmen scored the first goal of the game. A fine ball found Woolfe and his cross picked out Osborne, who fired home from close range.
Seconds later, Alex Davidson nearly equalised. From the kick-off, the Avenue found the winger, but good pressure from Kris Taylor and an instinctive save from the goalkeeper Dan Crane denied the number ten.
Then, the away side threatened with another attack. A series of quick passes ended with Paul Walker, who cut inside and struck a right-footed effort that deflected off a Pitmen player and narrowly over the bar from 20 yards.
Nevertheless, Rob Smith’s men were looking dangerous in the final third of the Avenue half. A long throw-in fell loose to left back Darren Campion, who delivered a left-footed cross, but Pearson was unable to get his head on the ball from eight yards.
As the home side were overhitting some of their passes, the Avenue nearly levelled the scoreline. After receiving a pass from St Juste, Walker tried to spot Corner at the far post, but his header lacked accuracy to trouble Crane.
However, Jordan Deacey’s shot ensured Crane had to make a save. An excellent flick from Corner fell into the feet of the midfielder, and Deacey unleashed a right-footed shot from 25 yards, but the Pitmen goalkeeper pushed his effort away.
From a corner, the hosts nearly conceded an equaliser. On the counter attack, Walker and Deacey linked up and the winger spotted Nicky Boshell inside the box, but his left-footed strike grazed the crossbar.
With half time approaching, the Pitmen had two chances to extend their advantage. Firstly, Elliott Durrell escaped two challenges to cross for Taylor, but his volley was tipped wide by Lamb. Then, another delivery caused problems amongst the visitors defence, but Pearson nodded over from close range.
After the break, the Avenue wasted an opportunity. On another counter attack, Boshell found Davidson, and with a 3 on 1 situation, the winger pulled the ball back but failed to find either Corner, Walker or St Juste inside the area.
Again, the away side failed to make the most of two chances. As the men in green and white pushed forward, Hotte played an inch perfect through ball to Corner, but his low effort was kept out by the legs of Crane from 12 yards. Minutes later, Walker found space and spotted the run of Boshell, who was one on one with the goalkeeper, but his right-footed strike was saved by Crane.
Once more, the Pitmen were under pressure from the Avenue attack. A neat pass from Boshell was collected by Walker, and the winger struck a low effort, but Crane produced another save with his legs.
However, the Pitmen punished the visitors’ failure to convert their chances, and extended their lead. A deep free-kick from John Disney was cleared by the Avenue into the path of Bailey, who struck a magnificent right-footed shot into the top corner from 25 yards.
After conceding the second goal, the Avenue were unable to create any notable chances, and slipped to another defeat, whereas their opponents climbed into first place in The Skrill North.
John Deacey was disappointed with the result, but encouraged with the performance:
“It was frustrating but I feel we should’ve got something out of the game. I’m very very pleased with the attitude, it was better than the Guiseley performances. We were unlucky to come away with nothing.”
Hednesford Town: Crane, Disney, Campion (capt), Bailey, McCone, Macpherson, Osborne, Durrell (Riley 76), Woolfe (Thompson-Brown 64), Pearson, Taylor (Melbourne 61).
Subs not used: Francis, Lennon.
Scorers: Osborne (8), Bailey (75).
Bradford (Park Avenue): Lamb, Howarth, Knowles, Deacey, Hotte (capt), Maxfield, St Juste (Clamp 70), Walker, Corner (Grayson 85), Davidson, Boshell.
Subs not used: Chilaka, Hume, McMurray.