Bradford (Park Avenue) were condemned to their third consecutive defeat after an old rivalry was renewed against F.C United of Manchester.
The first opportunity of the game fell to the visitors, who almost capitalised on what could have been a costly error from Ben McKenna. The midfielder gifted possession away to Stephen O’Halloran on the edge of the box, who unleashed a thunderous strike that whistled past the post.
Five minutes later, Elliott Simoes squandered a golden opportunity himself, skewing wide after being teed up by Joshua Wallen.
The Reds continued to knock on the door and Wallen had an opportunity himself after providing one for Simoes. The ball fell kindly for the midfielder on the edge of the box, but his low drive found the wrong side of the post.
After a brief spell camped inside their own half, Bradford began to demonstrate the threat they possess going forward. Lewis Knight drifted into space on the right-hand side of the box and left the woodwork shaking with a well-struck effort.
The difficult conditions stifled the frontlines of the two sides as the strikers were given little in the way of service. Through balls and crosses hung in the air or stuck in the mud of the pitch.
When the hosts did advance into the opposition’s box, they failed to keep their composure and Conor Branson lifted over the crossbar from the left-hand side of the box after Lloyd Allinson held Jake Beesley’s header.
A player renowned for the clinical nature of his finishing, Oli Johnson, did eventually break the deadlock with a low strike that rolled through a sea of bodies and nestled in the bottom corner.
However, former Bradford forward Chris Sharp etched his name on the scoresheet to put F.C United back on level terms. On the stroke of half-time, he cut in from the left and rifled into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.
HALF-TIME: Bradford (Park Avenue) 1-1 F.C United of Manchester
Kurt Willoughby called Drench into action immediately after the restart, drawing a save with a low drive on the turn.
Drench’s opposite number, Allinson, then had to be alert to deny Branson with a fantastic save.
The Reds’ goalkeeper then breathed a sigh of relief when Knight’s swerving effort found the wrong side of the post.
Two goals in quick succession put F.C United ahead shortly after the hour mark. Jack Banister found the top corner in sensational fashion, just two minutes before Willoughby fired into the bottom corner after a mazy run down the left flank.
The visitors weren’t allowed to cruise until the final whistle as Bradford piled pressure on the leaders. They were eventually rewarded for their pressure when Knight found the top corner with a stunning free-kick, ensuring that the late stages would be nervy for Neil Reynolds’ side.
Ryan Toulson delivered for Beesley as the final whistled approached, but the forward fired high and wide under pressure from Zehn Mohammed.
Substitute Adam Nowakowski came close in the first minute of stoppage time, but his powerful strike was beaten away by Allinson.
A late corner was only cleared as far as Nicky Wroe on the edge of the box and the midfielder was visibly frustrated when his deflected effort struck the crossbar.
FULL-TIME: Bradford (Park Avenue) 2-3 F.C United of Manchester
Bradford (Park Avenue): Drench, Toulson (Nowakowski 71’), Lowe, Wroe, Killock (c), Ross, Knight, Branson, Beesley, Johnson, McKenna (Hurst 69’).
Unused substitutes: Atkinson, Dawson.
F.C United of Manchester: Allinson, Morton, O’Halloran, Mohammed, Sass-Dabies, Wallen, Simoes (Potts 83’), Winter (c), Willoughby, Sharp (Crawford 90+5’), Banister (Brierley 90+2’).
Unused substitutes: Senior, Palinkas.
Referee: Andrew Kitchen