Bradford Eliminated By Ruthless Robins

Bradford (Park Avenue) were knocked out of the Emirates FA Cup by National League North counterparts Altrincham. 

After a first-half that failed to separate the sides, the visitors leaked two to send the Robins into the Fourth Qualifying Round of the prestigious competition.

Altrincham had two early opportunites to open the scoring, but Steven Drench held on to a flicked effort from Jordan Hulme and Sean Williams’ deflected effort struck the post. After the ball cannoned off the woodwork, it fell at the feet of John Johnston but the winger was thwarted by the Bradford stopper.

Drench remained busy in the early exchanges and his palms were stung by a long-range piledriver from Max Harrop.

Bradford caught their first glimpse of goal when Jake Beesley accelerated away from Connor Hampson and crossed, but Chris Dawson poked wide.

The chance seemed to rally Mark Bower’s side, who began to ask questions of their opponents. Ben McKenna nodded wide from a Danny Lowe delivery and Beesley also sent a header wide after connecting with a cross from Nicky Wroe.

Shortly after, McKenna rattled the post with a thunderous effort before the ball fell to Wroe on the edge of the box. The midfielder, however, couldn’t find the target and blasted wide.

They were soon rewarded for their pressure when Beesley was hauled to the ground by Jake Moult inside the 18-yard box. The forward stepped up and converted, giving Bradford a thoroughly deserved lead.

An acrobatic effort from McKenna then drew a magnificent save from Tony Thompson, who palmed the ball wide of the post at full stretch.

However, Bradford were sucker-punched as Hulme found Hampson with a low cross, enabling the defender to bundle over the line in the midst of a scramble.

Despite the blow, it took barely two minutes for the visitors to regain the lead. Wroe delivered a corner that found Shane Killock, who struck past Thompson.

The drama continued as stunned supporters witnessed another goal on the stroke of half-time. Jake Moult’s speculative strike from distance took a deflection that wrong-footed Drench and put the Robins back on level terms.

HALF-TIME: Altrincham 2-2 Bradford (Park Avenue)

Mark Bower was forced to shuffle his pack during the interval as Gianluca Havern was forced out of the action with injury. Conor Branson moved to the centre of defence as Jamie Spencer stepped off the bench and into midfield.

Bradford then made another enforced change, replacing Chris Dawson with veteran Danny Boshell.

The second-half didn’t quite reach the entertainment levels of the half that preceded it. Neither side was really troubled until the 57th minute when Harrop threaded through to Hulme and Killock was forced to block a low drive.

Johnston then came close to edging Altrincham ahead, but his curling effort was plucked out of the top corner by Drench.

However, the goalkeeper was unable to prevent James Jones steering home from Moult’s corner delivery and edging the Robins ahead.

Despite having a deficit to overturn, Bradford struggled to break the hardy hosts down and McKenna saw a dangerous delivery diverted away from danger by Tom Hannigan.

With just six minutes remaining, Altrincham extended their lead and deflated their opponents. Hulme cut in from the left before unleashing a vicious strike that rendered Drench helpless.

The visitors failed to mount a comeback and were condemned to their second defeat to Altrincham of the season,

FULL-TIME: Altrincham 4-2 Bradford (Park Avenue)

Altrincham: T. Thompson, White, Hampson, Jones, Hannigan, Moult (c), Johnston (Hancock 72′), Williams (Poole 72′), Hulme, Harrop, Dale (Peers 82′).

Unused substitutes: Goulding, J. Thompson, Densmore, Wynne.

Bradford (Park Avenue): Drench, Ross, Lowe, Wroe (Nowakowski 79′), Killock (c), Havern (Spencer 45′), McKenna, Branson, Beesley, Dawson (Boshell 52′), Clee.

Unused substitutes: Toulson, Atkinson, Knight, Johnson.

Referee: Dean Watson