Match Report Bradford Park Avenue 1 Stourbridge FC 1
Avenue headed into their first involvement in the FA Trophy having dispatched of some of the National League North’s strongest outfits in recent weeks, and named an unchanged side from last week’s win over Brackley Town.
The visitors started strongly, and it was the underdogs that had the first chance of the afternoon. Darryl Westlake floated in a teasing delivery from the right, and Kyle Perry’s looped header looked dangerous until it dropped into the clutches of Steve Drench.
A moment of panic ensued a minute later, as an error from Shane Killock saw the ball fall kindly for Tom Tonks. Luckily for Avenue, the winger was deemed to have controlled with his arm and was penalised for handball.
The first clear-cut chance of the game, however, fell to the hosts. Matthew Gould pulled off a fantastic save from an Oli Johnson header, with the forward meeting an equally fantastic cross from Adam Boyes.
The hosts grew into the game, and Avenue carved open the Stourbridge defence twice in as many minutes shortly after. Wayne Brooksby got in behind but couldn’t find a green shirt with his drilled cross, and Nicky Wroe’s effort flew wide of Gould’s post despite a deflection from Johnson.
Stourbridge remained dangerous, however, and Luke Shearer came close to opening the scoring with a curled effort from a tight angle after cutting in from the left.
The visitors were soon rewarded for their resilience, as Perry headed home from a well-delivered Tonks corner.
The visitors then had chances to double their advantage, with goal scorer Perry forcing a strong palm from Drench on the stroke of half-time, minutes after being flagged offside in a similar position.
Avenue headed into the break a goal down, and no-one inside the ground could dispute the score line, with Stourbridge proving to be good value for their lead.
Avenue emerged the brighter side in the early stages of the second-half, and the impressive Gould pulled off yet another impressive save at point blank range from a low Matt Hill drive.
The home side’s improvement was rewarded in the 57th minute, when Nicky Clee reacted quickest to Gould’s parry from a Johnson shot, and hammered home to draw Avenue level.
Despite Avenue’s improvement, Stourbridge remained firmly in contention and almost edged ahead via Leon Broadhurst, who saw his header hooked off the line in dramatic fashion by Johnson.
Luke Benbow was the next to test Drench, with the forward firing low at the ‘keeper after being teed up by Aaron Forde, who had done well to skip past Ross.
Both sides had chances to book their place in the first round in the closing ten minutes, but it was Avenue who will feel most frustrated by their inability to convert. A Ross delivery fell to Boyes at the back post, only for the forward to volley over from close-range in such a way rarely seen by the usually clinical talisman.
The referee soon called a halt to the encounter, and both sides have it all to do again when they meet again in a replay on Monday 27th November. The action will kick-off at 7:45pm.
Bradford Park Avenue: Drench, Ross, Hill, Wroe (c), Killock, Havern, Brooksby, Spencer, Boyes, Johnson, Clee (Vidal 76’).
Unused substitutes: Hall, Lyn, Nowakowski, Knight.
Stourbridge FC: Gould, Westlake, Christophorou, McCone (c), Pierpoint, Forde, Tonks, Broadhurst, Perry (Cooke 83’), Benbow, Shearer (Green 78’).
Unused substitutes: Marsh, Cameron, Evans.