Avenue prove two good for Brackley
Bradford Park Avenue continue to defy the odds, and further cemented themselves as serious play-off contenders with a thoroughly deserved 2-0 victory over high-flying Brackley Town.
Following Danny Boshell’s red card in the win over North Ferriby last week, Jamie Spencer returned to the starting eleven in Mark Bower’s only change. Forward Lee Knight also returned to the squad, following the conclusion of his loan spell with Sutton Coldfield. The opening half hour was a drab affair, with neither side facing serious tests to their defences. James Armson ran at the Avenue backline early on, but despite finding his way past Wayne Brooksby and Nicky Wroe, ran into a crowd of players in the box and was dispossessed.
Danny Lewis was called into action twenty minutes in, as Oli Johnson glided past three players, but his effort was tame and easy to collect for the grateful ‘keeper.
It wasn’t long before the game livened up, however, and it was Avenue that sprung into life first. Some good work from the in-form Graham Kelly down the left allowed him to thread through to Johnson, whose cut-back fell just a yard short of reaching the advancing Brooksby.
Avenue’s persistence was soon rewarded, as a delivery from a corner fell to Adam Boyes, who made no mistake in steering home from close-range.
The home side remained on top after the interval, and Johnson almost found the top corner with a curling effort that just couldn’t find the right side of the crossbar.
Lewis was then forced to beat away a piledriver of an effort from Nicky Clee, with Avenue looking more and more likely to add to their lead sooner or later.
They did, in fact, do just that. Johnson demonstrated some sublime skill and technique to go past four Brackley defenders before teeing up Kelly, who edged wide before sliding past Lewis to net his first goal for the club.
Shortly after, Avenue almost made it three when Boyes forced Lewis to make a fantastic stop with his legs to deny the forward his second of the game.
It was then Kelly’s turn to come close to doubling his tally for the day, striking from distance and seeing his effort edge inches wide of the post.
Brackley’s frustration was evident, and the visitors will certainly consider themselves lucky to have escaped the game without receiving any marching orders. Matt Lowe could have easily seen red for a reckless challenge on Clee, and minutes later Shane Byrne challenged late on Spencer, with the latter escaping any form of punishment.
There was a brief Brackley rally late on, and full-back Elliott Myles was unlucky not to see his long-range effort nestle in the bottom corner with five minutes left on the clock.
Avenue, however, managed to hold on, and their play-off credentials are becoming more apparent by the week.
Bradford Park Avenue: Drench, Ross, Kelly, Wroe (c), Killock, Havern, (Vidal 62’), Brooksby, Spencer, Boyes, Johnson (Hill 90+2’), Clee (Nowakowski 90+3’).
Unused substitutes: Hall, Knight.
Brackley Town: Lewis, Myles, Gudger, S. Byrne, Graham (Walker 59’), Dean (c), Franklin, J. Byrne (Brown 70’), Ndlovu (Lowe 70’), Williams, Armson.
Unused substitutes: Tilney, Diggin.