Bradford (Park Avenue) made it six games unbeaten with a magnificent win over fellow promotion-chasers Spennymoor Town in a game rearranged from last week.
Goals in each half, first from Conor Branson – his 11th of the season – and then Jake Beesley capping it off in the final few minutes secured a vital three points for Mark Bower’s men.
Due to the high stakes involved in the game, it was typically tense with the amount of importance riding on it, iin the lead-up to the fixture which was played at the second attempt after last weeks postponement.
Both sides could have done with all three points in their respective battle to gain fifth-tier status for the 2019/20 season, coming into the game Spennymoor Town were three points in front of Mark Bower’s side.
The hosts came out the more energetic with Ryan Hall looking lively down the right. He won his side a couple of corners in the early exchanges, not allowing Bradford to make their mark on the game.
Branson signalled his intention to get on the scoresheet early, he took aim from just outside the area but his effort did not trouble Matthew Gould in the Spennymoor goal.
The game burst into life, and the entertainment began to match the tempo with both sides now having efforts which required their respective stoppers to be on top form.
Firstly, a succession of corners for the hosts led to Charlie Andrew tipping over, and latterly Jake Beesley heading off the line before the ever lively Lewis Knight stormed up the wing, releasing Beesley, who’s effort was well saved.
Bradford had another effort which involved Knight and Beesley. This time it was roles reversed as the on-loan Salford City man slipped the ball through to the young winger, who found Gould in impeccable form again.
On 24 minutes came the opening goal. A free-kick was whipped in dangerously and then cleared only as far as Branson who made no mistake, turning the ball in from close range.
The slope of the pitch never deterred Bradford with Bower telling James Smith before the game that he would not let it be an excuse, and it duly proved correct.
Pre-match, Bower claimed Avenue could be proud of their season’s achievements thus far and on the evidence of the first period he would be right, with hard-working, energetic performances all over the pitch.
Bradford got in ahead at half-time courtesy of some brilliant saves by Charlie Andrew, who denied Glen Taylor amongst others on a number of occasions.
Second-half was a similar story as Andrew again came out on top when tested, however the rearguard action from Shane Killock and Luca Havern contributed greatly.
As Spennymoor chased the game there was potential space opening up in the final third and Bower looked to exploit this by bringing on Oli Johnson, who made an impact off the bench last week.
The game changed with fifteen minutes to go, however, with Scott Harrison being sent off for a professional foul on Jake Beesley, minutes earlier Bower introduced the defensive solidity of Adam Nowakowski and it looked as though Bradford would see the game out.
Any hopes of a late fightback were hindered when Beesley capitalised on a poor back-header to score a goal which sent the Avenue faithful into raptures behind the goal.
All that was left to do was to see the game out, aided by Danny Lowe who was a stoppage-time substitute for Nicky Clee as Avenue secured maximum points in a tough game.
Gould, Williams, Brogan, Chandler, Harrison, Curtis (c), Hall, Ramshaw, Taylor, Boyes (Henry 84′), Anderson (Tuton 46′)
Bradford (Park Avenue)
Andrew, Ross, Clee (Lowe 90+1′), Hurst (Johnson 55′), Killock (c), Havern, Knight, Branson, Beesley, East (Nowakowski 67′), Spencer.