Dudley double salvages point for Salford
A late brace from substitute Anthony Dudley rescued a point for the league leaders Salford City after Avenue had taken a shock 2-0 lead.
Mark Bower placed emphasis upon experience with his team selection, bringing the seasoned trio of Matt Hill, Danny Boshell and Adam Nowakowski into the starting eleven. Shane Killock, Jamie Spencer and Dan Pybus dropped to the bench whilst Ryan Toulson was dropped from the squad altogether. Guiseley defender Rob Atkinson had joined the club on loan that day, and was thrust into the action with an immediate start for his new club.
Atkinson showed little hesitation in giving supporters a glimpse of what to expect from him in the early stages as his first touch in Avenue shirt came with a full blooded challenge on Tom Walker.
The first-half was far from a thrilling spectacle, but the biggest chances of the opening stages fell to the hosts. Nathan Arnold powered an effort narrowly wide of the post and Jack Redshaw forced Steven Drench into an impressive stop after being played through on goal.
Tom Walker demonstrated his ability to trouble a defence with his set-piece deliveries throughout and Avenue were forced to desperately scramble away several dangerous crosses in the first-half especially. Danny Livesey leapt to meet a particularly teasing one but headed over.
Nicky Clee drew the first save of the game from Max Crocombe after being teed up by Adam Boyes, but saw his drilled effort held comfortably by the Salford stopper.
Avenue continued to frustrate Salford’s talented frontline and soon reaped the rewards for their patience when Nicky Wroe reacted quicker than his marker to latch on to a Clee cross before steering past Crocombe. The opening goal followed a lull in entertainment but was the catalyst for an increase in excitement in the second-half.
Salford came flying out of the blocks after the break, and Ibou Touray’s low cross somehow evaded the touch it needed to bundle it over the line.
However, Avenue held strong yet again and doubled their advantage with 53 minutes on the clock. Crocombe spilled a shot into the path of a lurking Adam Nowakowski and the midfielder made no mistake in steering home to extend the visitors’ deserved lead.
Mark Bower’s side even had opportunities to put the game beyond Salford with a third, and Boyes was unlucky to see his curling effort skim the post after bringing down a Clee cross in the box.
Crocombe, now defending the goal in front of the travelling fans, had been mercilessly mocked at half-time and would have made his situation worse had his poor clearance been capitalised on by Wroe, whose through ball to Oli Johnson was intercepted.
With their desperation becoming increasingly apparent, the hosts began to pile the pressure on Avenue’s backline. The tough nut of Avenue’s defence did, however, eventually crack. Drench parried an effort that was scurried away by Frank Mulhern, but Dudley pounced before his marker to poke home after the clearance fell to the back post.
After a period of sustained pressure, Dudley rescued a point for Salford in dramatic fashion in added time, rifling a shot into the top corner after a strong run down the right flank.
Salford City: Crocombe, Nottingham, Touray (Haughton 56’), Burton (Dudley 64’), Livesey, Maynard (c), Arnold, Mafuta, Phenix (Askew 64’), Redshaw, Walker.
Unused substitutes: Allen, Dieseruvwe.
Bradford Park Avenue: Drench, Vidal (Mulhern 65’), Hill, Wroe (c), Atkinson, Havern, Nowakowski (Spencer 76’), Boshell, Boyes, Johnson, Clee.
Unused substitutes: Killock, Pybus, Smith.
Referee: Sam Mulhall
Booked: Hill, Johnson (Avenue).