The Avenue’s unbeaten start to the Vanarama Conference North season came to an end as Stockport County ran out deserved winners at Edgeley Park.
Stockport County dominated the first half and were rewarded for their pressure when Richie Baker scored a superb goal from 20 yards. The home side continued to dominate early in the second half and doubled their lead through Jack Ryan’s rebound.
The Avenue finally began to cause problems late into the second half and gave themselves a chance of getting something from the game when substitute Danny Frost lobbed Danny Hurst from ten yards.
The visitors were unable to get the equaliser and the hosts sealed victory when Kristian Dennis diverted Nathan Woolfe’s low cross into the bottom corner.
County had plenty of early possession and created the first chance of the game. Baker picked the ball up, 25 yards out, before striking an effort at goal but the Avenue goalkeeper John Lamb tipped the shot over the bar.
It was then the turn of Hurst in the County goal to be called upon. A cross from right-back Grant Black was not dealt with and Chib Chilaka collected possession, but Hurst rushed off his line to deny the striker.
The home side broke the deadlock inside ten minutes. Baker, again, received a flick from his team mate and whilst driving towards goal, he struck a left-footed shot into the top corner, giving Lamb no chance in the Avenue goal.
After coping with numerous attacks, the Avenue then went close themselves. Black and Joe Colbeck linked up well before the defender delivered a deep cross to the far post. The unmarked Paul Walker rose well, but he was unable to keep his header down.
After Ryan Qualter conceded a free-kick and receiving a yellow card, County captain Jamie Mulligan stepped up to take the set-piece, but his strike hit the bar from 25 yards.
Chilaka again went close forcing Hurst into making a superb double save. The striker held off his marker and struck a right-footed effort, but Hurst did well to save with his legs. The ball spun back to Chilaka, and his left-footed strike saw the alert Hurst deny the Avenue number nine his first goal of the game.
The home side continued to pile the pressure on and they were rewarded with their second goal. A great strike from Scott Spencer was well saved, however Lamb lost sight of the ball near his post, unlike Ryan, who pounced to tap in from two yards.
Trailing 2-0, the Avenue finally started to create more chances. Chilaka looked to have pulled one back after Black found him inside the box. But, the striker’s effort went past Hurst, only for County right-back Glenn Belezika to head the ball off the line.
Bradford began to cause problems for the County defence and halved the deficit. Nathan Hotte spotted Chilaka, who held the ball up well before Frost retained possession. The substitute showed neat footwork and lifted the ball over Hurst and into the net for his first goal of the season and to the delight of the Avenue supporters behind the goal.
The Avenue were searching for a dramatic equaliser, but it was Alan Lord’s side who sealed the win into additional time. A long clearance was collected by Woolfe on the left wing, and his low cross was converted by Dennis into the bottom corner from eight yards.
Stockport County: Hurst, Belezika, Duxbury, O’Halloran, Gregson, Lees, Moses (Woolfe 57), Baker, Spencer (Dennis 90), Milligan (c) (Lofthouse 68), Ryan.
Subs not used: Ormson, Sharp.
Scorers: Baker (8), Ryan (61), Dennis (90+6).
Bradford (Park Avenue): Lamb, Black, Drury, Price, Qualter, Colbeck (Marshall 57), James, Hotte, Chilaka, Kerr (Rea 57), Walker (Frost 68).
Subs not used: Banton, Mallory.
Scorer: Frost (78)
Bookings: Qualter, Frost.
Referee: Daniel Meeson
Attendance: 2,173 (53 Avenue supporters)