Bradford (Park Avenue)’s hopes of completing an unlikely and miraculous great escape were given a massive boost as they beat promotion hopeful’s Chester 2-1 on Saturday afternoon at the Horsfall Stadium.
It had been a long time coming for an Avenue side who hadn’t won a game since December, and had been on the losing end of some very unfair results over the last couple of months of the season.
This time though, Bradford were finally rewarded for what was a terrific performance against one of the league’s best sides. It was a very cagey opening to the game for both sides, with the wind certainly playing a factor in that. At some points, you didn’t even know where the ball was going to land due to the sheer strength of the wind, but fortunately, it seemed that Avenue were the ones who were able to adapt best to the wintery conditions.
Because of the conditions, it always felt like the first goal was going to be vital and it was the Avenue who grabbed it. Tom Clare’s original strike from a superb Ryan Toulson cross struck the post. A melee then erupted on the goal line, and no one really seemed to know where the ball was. Eventually the ball looked like it struck Clare, seemingly off an attempted clearance by one of the Chester defenders and fell into the net.
Ugly goal or not, Mark Bower won’t have cared and it meant his side entered the break 1-0 ahead. However, it was important to not get carried away as Avenue also took a 1-0 lead into half time in the reverse fixture earlier this season and lost the game. It looked like it was going to be a repeat of that as Chester equalised on 50 minutes, Matty Waters scoring directly from a corner after Nicholson was unable to get a hold of the ball.
From then on, both sides enjoyed their fair share of possession and whoever got the third goal was surely going to win the game at this point. Luck this time was on Bradford’s side as it was they who got the all important third goal, and this time it was captain Oli Johnson nodding home after a long throw in from Lewis Knight.
Chester put a lot of pressure on the Avenue defence as the game reached it’s latter stages, but the Bradford defence held firm with a man-of-the-match performance from centre back Mitch Lund.
The result now leaves the Avenue 13 points from safety, but with plenty of confidence going into a mid week clash against Kings Lynn and a huge game next weekend against fellow relegation rivals Curzon Ashton.