Bradford (Park Avenue) retained their grip on top spot in the Vanarama National League North with a hard-fought victory over AFC Telford United.
Supporters were treated to a fast and fiery first-half, during which both sides created several opportunites and tempers threatened to flare on numerous occasions.
The hosts were keen to test Bradford in the opening exchanges and Bucks frontman Daniel Udoh registered the first shot on target of the game after just two minutes. His effort, however, was tame and rolled into the grateful clutches of Steven Drench.
A corner routine taken straight from the Telford training ground then created space for Darryl Knights to shoot, but he fired over the woodwork from a central position.
Telford were soon carved open themselves and Oli Johnson managed to flick over a stranded Andy Wycherley, but saw his effort hooked off the line in dramatic fashion by Shane Sutton.
Nicky Clee threaded through to an on-rushing Lewis Knight, but the Bradford man’s strike was blocked by makeshift left-back Ellis Deeney.
Deeney then almost made an impact at the other end when he connected with Knights’ teasing delivery. Despite having to scramble across his line, Drench held on to the powerful header.
Clee proved to be a thorn in Telford’s side throughout the first-half and found Knight with a superb lofted pass. The on-rushing attacker made an incisive dart into the box before being thwarted by Deeney’s sliding tackle.
Clee then skipped past two players with some deft footwork before teeing up Nicky Wroe, but the midfielder’s shot was diverted away from goal by the outstretched boot of Sutton.
The Bucks began to take control in the late stages of the half yet failed to capitalise on the opportunites they created. James McQuilkin sent two free-kick efforts over the crossbar and Amari Morgan-Smith headed wide after meeting Udoh’s cross.
HALF-TIME: AFC Telford United 0-0 Bradford (Park Avenue)
A collision between Drench and Udoh left both in a heap shortly after the restart and Knights attempted to take advantage. He lifted over the floored duo, but his effort found the wrong side of the crossbar.
Three minutes later, Bradford were ahead through Knight, who tucked the ball away in a vacated net after Wycherley parried Beesley’s curling effort.
Telford’s frustration was clear for all to see and McQuilkin sent a speculative effort wide despite several of his teammates making themselves available.
The trailing hosts desperately searched for an equaliser but found themselves unable to break the visitors down. Bradford’s defence remained resolute, forcing Telford to resort to speculative strikes from long-range.
Deeney escaped Ryan Toulson and teed up McQuilkin, but his audacious attempt whistled wide of the post.
Substitute Ryan Barnet came closer, forcing Drench to pluck his thunderous effort out of the top left-hand corner.
As the game entered its final ten minutes, pressure began to mount upon Bradford. Sutton connected with a corner delivery but nodded wide and Barnett was denied by Drench for a second time, watching his low drive be dropped upon by the Bradford stopper.
Bradford soaked up the pressure heaped upon them and launched a swift counter-attack to seal the three points in stoppage time. Beesley squared to Spencer from the left and the midfielder made no mistake in steering past Wycherley with admirable composure.
FULL-TIME: AFC Telford United 0-2 Bradford (Park Avenue)
AFC Telford United: Wycherley, White, Deeney, McQuilkin, Sutton (c), Smith (Barnett 62’), Cowans, Royle, Morgan-Smith (Daniels 78’), Udoh, Knights (Brown 78’).
Unused substitutes: Bramley, Ceesau.
Bradford (Park Avenue): Drench, Toulson, Lowe, Wroe, Ross, Havern, Nowakowski (Spencer 76’), Knight, Beesley, Johnson, Clee.
Unused substitutes: Dawson.
Referee: Aaron Jackson