Kidderminster Harriers progress to the First Round Proper of the FA Cup with Budweiser after a memorable victory over a spirited Bradford (Park Avenue) side.
The home team struck twice in the early stages of extra time with goals from Amari Morgan-Smith and Marvin Johnson before Alex Davidson pulled one back for the visitors. But Davidson’s late strike proved only to be a consolation as time ran out on Bradford’s FA Cup with Budweiser campaign.
The game was initially held up as the Bradford team coach broke down on the way to the Aggborough Stadium. But unlike the coach, the speed of play in the early stages was far from delayed. And it didn’t take long for the home side to create the first chance of the game as Lee Fowler broke free in the middle of the park before offloading a neat pass into the path of Anthony Malbon who fired into the side-netting with just one minute on the clock.
But Bradford were quick to respond with a chance of their own as Jordan Deacey whipped a tempting cross to Davidson who miscued his shot from the six yard line before the ball was cleared.
The visitors maintained their pressure creating a number of chances. The first of which falling to Deacey, who intercepted a poor pass from the hosts’ defence before accelerating into the penalty area and lashing a low shot against the goalkeeper’s legs.
Minutes later, Avenue’s Nicky Boshell clipped a deep corner across goal to James Knowles who unleashed a powerful low header, forcing the goalkeeper, Danny Lewis, to produce a fine fingertip save.
It wasn’t long before the home side answered with a chance of their own as Joe Lolley released a vicious left footed strike from 20 yards, stinging the fingertips of the Avenue goalkeeper John Lamb.
But it would be Bradford that took the game to Kidderminster Harriers in the closing stages of the first half. And the visitors should have took the lead as Davidson latched on to a long goal kick before breaking into space, offloading a delicate ball into Boshell, and his shot struck the post.
However, Steve Burr’s men came out from the break the stronger of the two sides creating a number of chances. Firstly, Malbon skipped past his man on the edge of the box, but his effort deflected off an outstretched Avenue leg for a corner.
Ten minutes later, the influential Davidson danced past two defenders on the wide right before swinging a crisp low cross, but the ball was cleared before the approaching Boshell could get a vital touch.
Following a positive run, Deacey was clipped, and after checking with the linesman, the referee awarded a free-kick. Richard Marshall stepped up and fired his shot against the wall.
For the second time in the game it was the post that denied John Deacey’s men as Davidson produced a sublime piece of skill, tapping the ball through the legs of Josh Gowling before curling a shot with the outside of his foot against the woodwork.
With just ten minutes left of normal time, the home side continued to search for the first goal in the cup tie, however Malbon’s strike was deflected wide by the Avenue defence.
The final whistle then blew on the end of normal time.
But just a couple of minutes into extra time, Bradford were punished for their failure to convert earlier chances as Morgan-Smith tapped home to give the home side the lead. Substitute Marvin Johnson did well down the left wing to beat his man before delivering a superb ball to the striker to find the net.
The home side extended their advantage as Johnson was involved again, bringing the ball down, before turning and crashing a 20 yard half-volley past Lamb at the near post.
However, showing their fighting spirit, the Avenue responded with a goal of their own. A second corner from Martin Drury was played short to Chris Howarth, who hit a first time cross that avoided everyone, before Davidson could smash home at the far post.
But despite their late efforts, the final whistle signalled an Avenue defeat, ending their twelve game unbeaten run.
The Avenue manager John Deacey, had nothing but praise for his team following the match:
“The performance was magnificent. We were superb. We’ve got to be proud after playing against an excellent side in Kidderminster Harriers. The manager is a top guy, he’s assembled a great side together and Bradford (Park Avenue) pushed them all the way.”
“We’ve worked hard today and hopefully it puts us in good stead for the rest of the season. We’ve got to pick ourselves up and go again Saturday. But tonight I just want to reflect on how proud I am of the club and the supporters as well. We had a ten minute warm up. We didn’t get there until 7.50pm, but I’m very proud of them.”
Adam Clayton, the Avenue defender, expressed his disappointment following the game but praised the performance:
“We’ve been told not to be too disappointed but it’s hard not to be. We played so well, not just tonight but over the two games and extra time as well.”