Bradford (Park Avenue) moved level on points with safety after securing their third win in a row away to Blyth Spartans on Tuesday night, courtesy of a fourteenth minute goal from the in-form Jacob Blyth.
The Avenue headed into the game against fellow strugglers Blyth Spartans with the confidence of back-to-back wins for the first time since January, and it didn’t take long to settle in front of the 683 in attendance under the lights at Croft Park. In the fourteenth minute, Jacob Blyth struck through a crowded penalty area to give Bradford a deserved early lead, netting his second goal in as many games.
As the first half wore on, the Avenue sensed the hosts were there for the taking and pressed to double their lead. Jacob Blyth came close to netting a second after firing narrowly wide, while Eddie Church remained a constant threat with his pace and determination.
Blyth Spartans appeared rejuvenated following their half-time team talk from manager Graham Fenton and quickly pushed for an equaliser in the opening minutes of the second half, with repeated dangerous crosses flashing across the Avenue goalmouth and goalkeeper George Sykes-Kenworthy producing a fine save to keep out a goal-bound flick from Blyth’s Jordan Hickey.
Worryingly for the Avenue in amongst the Blyth pressure early in the second half, captain Gianluca Havern was forced off with a knock and replaced by Will Longbottom. Manager Mark Bower will be hoping the injury is nothing serious with two home fixtures on the horizon within the next week.
As the second half wore on the hosts continued to dominate possession and create chances but were unable to breach Sykes-Kenworthy’s goal due to a combination of wasteful finishing and resolute defending. Blyth’s dangerous young winger Corey McKeown twice came close with efforts drifting just wide of the post. One final clear-cut opportunity came in added time when a Nicky Deverdics close-range effort was well held by the impressive Avenue goalkeeper.
The final whistle brought a sigh of relief for the Avenue manager Mark Bower, who reflected on the challenge posed by the midweek trip to Blyth. “Coming away to Blyth on a Tuesday night is always a tough one and we saw how good they were against Wrexham in the FA Cup last week. They’re very good at keeping the ball and pulling you around so you have to be very disciplined out of possession”. Bower was also full of praise for the way his side defended their lead: “You know the lads have kept going and for their effort, work rate, desire and commitment tonight, I’ll happily take three points”.
The result takes Bradford (Park Avenue) above Blyth Spartans in the National League North into 21st position, level on goal difference with 20th placed Boston United. Next up for the Avenue is the tough task of hosting the in-form Brackley Town this Saturday, who are currently unbeaten in their previous five games and will arrive at the Horsfall Community Stadium occupying third place. The Green Army will be hoping their own consistency prevails, knowing that a point may be enough to finally climb out of the relegation zone.
Blyth Spartans 0 – 1 Bradford (Park Avenue) – Jacob Blyth (14’)
Attendance – 683
Writer: Stephen Grimshaw