Avenue survive Boro rally to earn point
Bradford Park Avenue picked up a valuable point at the LDJ Solicitors Stadium, holding Nuneaton Town to a 0-0 draw despite being reduced to ten men in the second-half.
Ryan Toulson made his long-awaited return to action after a lengthy battle with injury to replace the injured Mark Ross at right-back, and Danny Boshell was drafted into the starting eleven due to the absence of Wayne Brooksby. New signing Adam Smith was named as a substitute having finalised the terms of his move to the club yesterday.
Neither side found their rhythm in the early stages of the match, but there was a reason to protest barely three minutes in. Nicky Clee split the Nuneaton defence open with a through-ball that eventually overran, but goalkeeper Dean Lyness appeared to have handled the ball outside of the area when collecting. Nevertheless, the referee ignored the appeals of Avenue players and waved play on.
Half-chances came in the form of tame efforts from Clee and Oli Johnson, with the latter seeing his shot held comfortably by Lyness, and Clee firing wide.
The best chance of a relatively mundane opening 25 minutes fell to the hosts, with Tom Elliott’s deflected effort from a tight angle coming very close to finding a way past Steven Drench.
Nuneaton grew in confidence as the half progressed, and Jordan Nicholson rattled the crossbar with a well-struck attempt. This was quickly followed by a golden opportunity for Ashley Chambers to open the scoring after Elliott squared, but Shane Killock flew across to make a sensational block and deny the hosts.
The dangerous Daniel Nti was a persistent threat to Avenue’s backline, but saw his drilled effort tipped over the crossbar by Drench in impressive fashion.
Both Avenue and Nuneaton flew out of the blocks after the interval, with both sets of players desperate to notch and edge their sides ahead. James Ferry and Nicky Wroe were the first to arrow shots goalward, but both saw their frustrations heightened with failure to hit the target.
The encounter soon became an end-to-end affair, and Adam Boyes will rue his missed opportunity for days to come after he volleyed over from a Jamie Spencer cross. Clee also came agonisingly close to breaking the deadlock, forcing Lyness to pluck his dipping free-kick out of the top corner.
Mark Bower heaped praise upon the performance of goalkeeper Drench after the game, and rightfully so with the goalkeeper clawing away two dangerous strikes from Nti in a matter of minutes.
Avenue, however, suffered a devastating blow when Danny Boshell received his marching orders for a second bookable offence. Boshell was penalised for two second-half fouls that saw him take an early bath for the second time this season.
Pressure mounted upon the visitors after the sending off, as Nuneaton piled forward in droves in an attempt to capitalise upon their man advantage.
Despite losing Boshell, Avenue’s backline remained sturdy. Killock gave a masterclass in the art of dogged defending, and Drench palmed away every effort that was fired his way.
Avenue managed to survive the Boro onslaught, and supporters even caught a glimpse of new signing Adam Smith in added time before the referee blew his whistle.
Mark Bower’s play-off chasers face what could prove to be an even sterner test next week, taking on table-toppers Salford City at the Peninsula Stadium.
Nuneaton Town: Lyness, Wildin, Heaton, Elliott, Johnson, Digie, Ferry, Beswick, Chambers, Nicholson, Nti.
Unused substitutes: Etheridge, Dielna, Mitchell, Ashton.
Bradford Park Avenue: Drench, Toulson, Hill, Wroe (c), Killock, Havern, Spencer, Boshell, Boyes (Smith 90+3’), Johnson (Nowakowski 81’), Clee (Vidal 75’).
Unused substitutes: Hall, Knight.
Booked: Clee, Killock, Havern, Boshell (Avenue), Beswick (Nuneaton)
Sent off: Boshell (Avenue)
Referee: Thomas Kirk