Mark Bower’s Bradford (Park Avenue) side faced Altrincham away from home, with the pre-match coverage centring on the introduction of the home side’s campaign, Football vs Homophobia, in which they showed their support wearing a special rainbow kit.
The game started as brightly as the home side’s shirt for Avenue. Alex Hurst was fouled after only three minutes and the resulting free-kick was played in, leading to Shane Killock having an early effort charged down.
Immediately after that, though, the hosts broke forward. Joe Pigott was the man who met the ball but his effort was thwarted in similar fashion to Killock’s at the other end.
Altrincham looked to display their prowess on the counter-attack, doing so on a number of occasions, using the pace of Piggott and his strike partner, Josh Hancock to trouble the Bradford defence.
The game became livelier still. However, the football became a slight back-story, with the referee showing he was happy enough to use his whistle on a number of occasions. One of which incensed the Bradford bench, as Connor Branson received a blow to the head.
Killock was central to the action once again, minutes later. Good work from the Altrincham front line led to Hancock trying to square the ball, but the Avenue skipper stuck out a leg to prevent the hosts opening the scoring.
However, that only proved to be a delay to the inevitable. Luca Havern was swivelled on the half-way line, allowing the hosts to break. Piggott realeased Hancock who rounded debutant Charlie Andrew and slotted home for the opening goal.
Bradford looked to reply instantly and almost did. A mix-up in the defence saw the ball ricochet back to Jake Beesley, but the ball was judged to have come off an Avenue man last, and so his lob was in vain as the assistant raised his flag.
One almost became two shortly after. Max Harrop’s whipped free-kick looked as though it could nestle in the bottom corner but a slight deflection ensured it went the right side of the post from a Bradford perspective.
The game went a long time without significant action, until seven minutes before the break Alex Hurst showed good footwork in the box before blasting high and wide inside the area.
The final chance of the first-half came when, at the end of the half, a corner was given to the home side. At the edge of the box, an Altrincham man was waiting to strike, he duly did, but Andrew palmed over well.
The first chance of the second half went the way of the visitors. Nicky Clee sized one up from absolutely miles out, but his shot went way over the bar.
Max Harrop looked to add to the hosts tally when he picked the ball up in a promising position, his shot was dragged well wide, not troubling Andrew in the goal.
It was actually the hosts who looked the more likely to score, with a lovely drop of the shoulder leaving his man for dead, unfortunately for them the shot dropped wide of the far post.
Mark Bower sensed something needed to change and as a result he took off Oli Johnson, introducing Macauley Langstaff in the process, as he came on to join the search for an equaliser, on his debut.
With 23 minutes remaining on the clock, Bradford finally got some space to work with. Beesley made an opening for himself before the ball bobbled horribly, resulting in him slicing the ball wide, as Avenue looked less and less likely to grab a goal.
Just two minutes later, though. Lewis Knight saw an opportunity and went for it, his looping effort didn’t dip in time and went well over the bar.
With the game coming into the final few minutes, Bower threw on the last two substitutes at his disposal. Romaney Critchlow-Noble and Danny East making their way onto the field, meaning a change of shape.
Duly, it was that change of shape that contributed to the equaliser, more bodies flooded forward and it was East who bundled home the equaliser after good work from Knight and Clee.
Both sides searched for a winner, but ultimately it wasn’t forthcoming as Avenue took a point back to Yorkshire and remained inside the play-off places.
1. Steven Drench 2. Shaun Densmore 3. Connor Hampson 4. James Jones 5. Tom Hannigan 6. Jake Moult (C) 7. John Johnston 8. Simon Richman 9. Joe Piggott 10. Josh Hancock 11. Max Harrop
12. James Poole 14. Andy White 15. Mason Fawes (74) 16. Yousifu Ceasay (65) 17. Tony Thompson
1. Charlie Andrew 2. Mark Ross 3. Nicky Clee 4. Alex Hurst 5. Shane Killock (C) 6. Gianluca Havern 7. Lewis Knight 8. Conor Branson 9. Jake Beesley 10. Oli Johnson 11. Jamie Spencer
12. Ryan Toulson 14. Macauley Langstaff (60) 15. Romaney Critchlow-Noble (78) 16. Danny East (78) 17. Adam Nowakowski