Luca Havern celebrates his goal with Will Longbottom

AFC Fylde  3 – 1  Bradford (Park Avenue)

Avenue’s loss by a two-goal margin at fourth-placed Fylde on Saturday unfortunately does nothing to reflect the hard work and endeavour put into the game by players anxious to turn their fortunes around and claim an overdue first win of the season.

Keeping the home side at a safe distance for most of the first half, Avenue managed to have a few moments of their own. After a free-flowing move early on, Will Longbottom played in Jamie Spencer who hit a strong, rising shot from 16 yards only fractionally outside the angle of post and crossbar. There was also a penetrating run by Lucas Odunston taking him into a scoring position directly in front of goal before being brought down in a heap on the edge of the box.

Fylde then made their first clear opportunity count after 25 minutes with a forceful 15-yard shot looping into the top corner of the net, but Avenue continued to show their resolve. Simon Richman had a tricky angled shot turned away for a corner before an equaliser came just two minutes before the break to give a whole new complexion to the game. Will Longbottom put a precision corner kick into the goalmouth which Oli Johnson flicked on and captain Luca Havern was there to stab in at the far post.

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Facing a tough task still against a full-time team on a six-match unbeaten run, Avenue were looking comfortable enough as the second half progressed. However, Fylde then re-took the lead from a debatable corner in the 63rd minute when a firm header from ten yards out was planted into the bottom corner of the net and Avenue were suddenly up against it.

Despite their efforts, opportunities to get back in the game did not really come their way and, with just two minutes left on the clock and Avenue desperately looking for an opening that might give them some reward, Fylde took advantage on the counter by scoring a third goal to seal their victory.

It’s perhaps worth noting that the fixture planners have unwittingly not helped Avenue in these opening nine matches of the season. Giving them seven fixtures against teams currently in the top eight, this has sadly been reflected in the League table despite a number of close games.

While understandably disappointed with the defeat, manager Mark Bower said the following the game: ‘After last week, we asked for a reaction from the players’, and on this performance he was justifiably able to add: ‘Today I thought we looked confident. We looked good on the ball’.

Team: Sykes-Kenworthy; Odunston, Staunton; Spencer (Fielding 63), Havern, Lund; Hopper, Richman, Dockerty (Church 77), Johnson (Blyth 70), Longbottom. Unused subs: Smith, Nowakowski.

Avenue yellow card: Hopper (88).

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