Despite it being a dreary day at Victory Park the game was far from it with a 3-2 thriller which saw both sides confirm their spots in the playoff places.
Mark Bower made one change from Monday’s starting eleven following on from a 1-3 defeat against York City with Danny East dropping to the bench in place of Jamie Spencer. Chorley on the other hand made a couple of changes to their starting eleven with both Teague and Challoner both dropping out for Jordan and Anson respectively as they aimed for the National League North title.
Chorley started off the stronger side, fashioning themselves some early half-chances including an early long range drive in the 2nd minute by Chorley centre back Meppen-Walters which was easily held by ‘keeper Charlie Andrew.
After weathering an early storm Bradford then grew into the game with some good combination play by Knight and Ross down the Bradford right, which was ultimately comfortably dealt with by the Chorley defence. Avenue’s best chance of the match up to that point then fell Lewis Knight who found himself free at the back post, however he was unable to get his header on target. A trio of Bradford corners followed but they were unable to make the most of the opportunities presented to them.
It was then heart-in-mouths moment for the Avenue supporters when some good play by the Chorley attackers saw them get in behind and get the ball in the back of the net, thankfully however the linesman had flagged for offside. It then got even better as just a few minutes later in the 34th minute Knight was brought down in the box by ‘keeper Matt Urwin after being played in behind by Jake Beesley. It was of course Beesley who took the resultant penalty, giving Bradford the lead and taking Beesley’s tally to twenty for the season. Bradford then would have been through again in the 37th minute had it not have been for Johnson slipping on the edge of the area.
For the rest of the half Chorley regained control having a couple of chances which again were easily dealt with by Andrew, up until the 43rd minute when a good ball in from Bradford’s left hand side was superbly held up by Almond who thumped it into the roof of the net to level up the game. Chorley then came close again through a Carver header which was brilliantly saved by last weeks man of the match Charlie Andrew.
After the break, both sides came racing out the blocks with Andrew again being forced into making a couple of saves in the 46th and 47th minute. Bradford then created a chance of their own when following a brilliant bit of play by Knight he forced Urwin into making a save.
In the 54th minute a long ball down field from a Chorley goal kick was misjudged by Andrew, allowing Louis Almond through again and seeing him put the ball into the back of the empty net, giving him his second of the match. A minute later however, Bradford immediately fired back when a cross in by Knight was bundled home by Oli Johnson at the back post.
Chorley came close again in the 57th minute with a free kick which hit the post and eventually ended up being dealt with by the Bradford defence.
For then on the game appeared to be fizzling out with neither side really being able to create any clear-cut chances as they had done earlier in the half. This continued until the 87th minute when yet another long ball by Urwin wasn’t dealt with by Bradford’s defence allowing Almond to slot away, in off the post, rounding off his hat trick. For the remainder of the match, Bradford struggled for possession however Chorley rarely did enough to truly threaten scoring again.
Despite the 3-2 defeat, Bradford qualified for the playoffs on goal difference as Telford fell to a 1-0 defeat to previous games opponents York City. This now means that Bradford will travel to Spennymoor Town on Wednesday for the start of their playoff campaign.
Bradford (Park Avenue) F.C
- C. Andrew
- M. Ross
- D. Lowe
- A. Nowakowski (East 70’)
- S. Killock ©
- G. Havern
- D. East
- C. Branson
- J. Beesley
- O. Johnson (Clee 57’)
- L. Knight (Lewis-Potter 88’)
Unused substitutes; Chrichlow-Noble, Hurst.
- M. Urwin
- A. Anson
- A. Blakeman
- S. Jordan ©
- S. Leather (O’Keefe 59’)
- C. Meppen-Walters
- A. Newby
- J. Cottrell (Hooper 78’)
- M. Carver (Tuton 67’)
- L. Almond
- E. Newby
Unused substitutes; Hanley, Eccles.
34’ Yellow – Matt Urwin (Chorley)
56’ Yellow – Conor Branson (BPA)
65’ Yellow – Stephen Jordan (Chorley)
Referee: James Bell