A spirited Avenue comeback reinvigorated their fading play-off hopes as they overcame AFC Telford United at the Horsfall Stadium.
Mark Bower made four changes from the side that suffered a crushing defeat to FC United of Manchester on Saturday, with experienced midfield duo Danny Boshell and Nicky Clee returning alongside Steven Drench and Gianluca Havern. Matt Hill and Oli Johnson both featured despite their dismissals in the previous game.
The best of the early opportunities fell to the home side, with Nicky Wroe and Shane Killock seeing close-range efforts blocked and frantically hacked away after the pair pounced on a deflected free-kick delivery.
The Bucks very nearly self-destructed shortly after as a weak header back to the goalkeeper from Dominic Smith allowed Wroe to intercept. Luckily for the visitors, a heavy touch allowed Ben Wilson to collect.
The visitors did, however, grow in confidence as the game progressed and very nearly opened the scoring through defender Shane Sutton. Telford’s skipper powered a header towards goal after meeting a corner delivery only for Drench to make a terrific stop to deny him at point blank range.
Avenue then came close to breaking the deadlock with a header as Danny Boshell made a late run into the box and rattled the crossbar with his effort.
Controversy was the last thing Avenue will have wanted following the dubious nature of Saturday’s red cards, but it came nonetheless as Killock brought down Kane Richards and the referee pointed to the spot. The official was crowded in the aftermath of the decision with players convinced it took place outside of the box but a spot-kick was awarded. Marcus Dinanga stepped up and coolly slotted home to fire the Bucks ahead.
HALF-TIME: Bradford Park Avenue 0-1 AFC Telford United
An injury forced Danny Boshell to be withdrawn at the interval, with on-loan Guiseley forward Frank Mulhern entering the fray in his place.
It proved to be an inspired switch, as the loanee netted his first goal in Avenue colours with a flicked header past Wilson to draw level.
Telford then had a golden opportunity to regain their lead after Elliot Newby’s effort was palmed into the path of Dinanga, who blazed over from six yards despite demonstrating composure with his earlier finish.
Clear-cut chances were few and far between as the final whistle approached, with a John Marsden strike that trickled into the Drench’s clutches being the most notable incident in a lull in entertainment and quality.
That was until Mulhern edged Avenue ahead with three minutes left on the clock, rising to meet an in-swinging delivery from Hill and glancing a header across Wilson and into the back of the net.
FULL-TIME: Bradford Park Avenue 2-1 AFC Telford United
Bradford Park Avenue: Drench, Ross, Hill, Wroe (c), Killock, Havern, Brooksby, Boshell (Mulhern 45’), Vidal, Johnson, Clee (Smith 36’, replaced by Spencer 80’).
Unused substitutes: Toulson, Hall.
AFC Telford United: Wilson, White (Murphy 89’), Harris, Smith, Sutton (c), Deeney, Lussey (Giles 80’), Cowans, Richards (Marsden 74’), Dinanga, Newby.
Referee: Dean Watson
Unused substitutes: Johnson, Singh.