Two games in three days await the Avenue in the Vanarama National League North.
Bradford (Park Avenue) will look to build on their impressive home win against Leamington last Saturday as they travel to high-flying Brackley Town this weekend.
Confidence will be high amongst Avenue ranks as they made light work of their opponents last time out, emerging with a vital 3-1 victory to strengthen their survival hopes after controlling large parts of the game. However, this weekend poses a different challenge entirely against a Brackley side that has had an impressive season so far in their hunt for promotion.
With a handful of sides around Bradford (Park Avenue) having played mid-week fixtures due to their games in hand, the Avenue find themselves travelling to Brackley’s St James Park in 19th place, three points ahead of the relegation zone. However, having still played more games than some of their rivals, every game is equally important in the fight for survival.
Brackley Town were also in action on Tuesday night, securing a narrow 2-1 victory away over Kidderminster Harriers. The Saints will entertain the Avenue on Saturday from 3rd place in the National League North, but have struggled for consistency in recent weeks. Despite suffering only one defeat in their previous 21 league fixtures, Brackley have failed to string together successive victories since early November, a statistic which the Green Army will hope to continue beyond this weekend.
One player that Bradford (Park Avenue) will need to keep a watchful eye on is Brackley’s Callum Stead. The Saints forward has netted 11 times in 30 league appearances, averaging 0.41 goals per game. His attacking prowess has complimented Brackley’s stubborn defence, with the Saints boasting the league’s best goals against tally so far this season having conceded just 23 times.
The reverse fixture between these two sides saw Brackley emerge from the Horsfall Community Stadium with a 2-1 victory back in October. The Avenue led at half time through a Will Longbottom strike on the quarter of an hour mark, only for second half goals from Martin Woods and Cosmos Matwasa to turn the game around for the Saints. In fact, Bradford (Park Avenue) will be hoping to break what has become a torrid run of form against this weekend’s opponents, having lost the last six meetings between the pair. The Avenue’s last victory at Brackley came back in April 2018, a 1-0 victory courtesy of an 80th minute goal from Ryan Toulson.
A win at St James Park on Saturday could lift Bradford (Park Avenue) as high as 17th place, whilst defeat could leave the Avenue 21st and in the relegation zone depending on results elsewhere.
Just two days after the trip to Brackley, Bradford (Park Avenue) will be welcoming Blyth Spartans to the Horsfall Community Stadium in a game of huge importance at the bottom end of the league table.
At the time of writing, the Spartans sit 23rd in the National League North, four points from safety and six points behind the Avenue. Blyth will be travelling to Bradford after hosting 18th placed Kettering Town on Saturday and will then turn their attention to a trip to bottom of the league AFC Telford United the following weekend. Many of the Spartans faithful will therefore see the next three games against fellow strugglers as a make-or-break period for the remainder of their season.
The reverse fixture back in late October was a significant one for Bradford (Park Avenue) as the 1-0 victory at Croft Park was their first away win of the season, part of a run of games which helped propel the Avenue off the foot of the table. In fact, Bradford have come out on top in each of their last three meetings against the Spartans and are unbeaten in their previous six against Monday’s visitors. Last season’s home encounter against Blyth resulted in a 2-1 victory for the Avenue thanks to goals from Luca Havern and Luke Rawson, despite the Spartans taking the lead on the brink of half time. Bradford’s Green Army will be hoping their excellent head-to-head record holds to key to taking another giant step towards survival against a fellow struggler under the lights at the Horsfall.
Match Previews by Stephen Grimshaw (@sgsportswriter on Twitter)
Saturday 18th February – Brackley Town vs Bradford (Park Avenue)
Kick off: 3pm
Brackley Town F.C. St James Park, Churchill Way, Brackley, NN13 7EJ
Brackley doesn’t have a train station, the closest station is Banbury, which is around 10 miles away. Banbury bus station is a 5 minute walk from the train station and from there you can catch a Stagecoach No 500 bus to Brackley which takes around 30 mins.
Traveling by Bus
The nearest bus stops to St James Park are on Bridge Street or around the Market Place which are around a 5 to 10-minute walk to St James Park.
TRAVELING BY CAR
From the South (M40 & A43)
From, or crossing the M40 at Junction 10, follow the A43 towards Northampton. (The road is a dual carriageway all the way to Brackley – 9 miles). At the large roundabout at the bottom of the hill as you approach the town, take the 2nd exit signposted Brackley (South).
* After approximately 100 metres, take the 2nd exit at the mini roundabout (Tesco store on the left, Mercedes / Petronas Formula One Racing on the right), and follow the road towards the town. The New Locomotive public house is almost immediately on the left hand side and Churchill Way is the next turning on the right as you go up the hill. (Signposted Football Club). Turn into Churchill Way and follow this road which leads directly into the Club car park.
From the East (A422 Buckingham)
From Buckingham, follow the A422 to Brackley (8 miles). The A422 joins the A43 at a roundabout as you enter the town at the bottom of a hill. Take the first exit (signposted Oxford, A43 & M40) and follow this dual carriageway for approximately three quarters of a mile. At the next roundabout, take the last exit signposted Brackley (South). Then follow the directions marked * above.
From the West (A422 Banbury & M40 Junction 11)
Leave Banbury at the M40 junction 11 and follow the A422 (signposted Brackley). After approximately 8 miles go straight over the first small roundabout and follow the signs for the A43. About a mile further on the road passes a Tesco store on the left and almost immediately take the first exit at the roundabout signposted Brackley (South). Then follow the directions marked * above.
From the North (A43 Northampton, M1 and the A5)
Leave the M1 at Junction 15A and follow the A43 South (signposted Oxford & M40).
After approximately 8 miles the road crosses the A5 at a roundabout just outside Towcester. Follow the A43 past Silverstone to Brackley and at the first roundabout (BP garage), take the first exit (signposted A43, Oxford & M40). At the second roundabout, take the second exit (signposted A43, Oxford & M40). At the third roundabout, take the third exit (signposted Brackley, South). Then follow the directions marked * above.
Monday 20th February – Bradford (Park Avenue) vs Blyth Spartans
Kick off: 7:45pm
Where To Find Us:
Bradford (Park Avenue) AFC, Horsfall Community Stadium, Cemetery Road, Bradford, West Yorkshire, BD6 2NG
Directions By Car:
Leave the M62 at junction 26 and follow signs for the M606. Continue on the M606 to junction 3 and take the A6117 exit to Ring Road West. At the roundabout take the 2nd exit on to Rooley Lane / A6036 signposted Halifax. Pass the Odsal Stadium on the left hand side and at the next roundabout take the 3rd exit on to Halifax Road / A6036 signposted Halifax. After approximately one mile turn left down Cemetery Road immediately before the Kids Planet Children’s Nursery, and the ground is 150 yards on the left. We have a car park which will be signposted off Cemetery Road and parking charges may apply.
Directions By Train:
Bradford Interchange rail station is the nearest to the ground and trains operate on the Calder Valley Line timetable from Bradford, Halifax, Huddersfield, Manchester, Preston and York.
From there you can catch the bus directly to the ground (details below):
Bradford Forster Square rail station There are regular services from Leeds (Leeds-Bradford Line timetable), Skipton (Airedale Line timetable) and Ilkley (Wharfedale Line timetable).
From Forster Square it is a 10 minute walk to Bradford Interchange bus station for a bus onwards to the stadium.
Directions By Bus:
From Bradford Interchange bus station bus services 681 and 682 and Halifax Bus Station bus services 508, 681 and 682.
These services stop at the Halifax Road Cemetery Road stop near to the stadium.
The turnstiles open around an hour and a half before kick off and are located at either end of the ground on Cemetery Road and Park Road. Matchday prices for league games are as follows:
Adult – £14
Concession – £10
Student – £5
Youth (12-17) – £3
Junior (under 12, must be accompanied by an adult) – £1