Spoils shared between Bradford and Blyth

Bradford (Park Avenue) picked up their first point of the calendar year against high-flying Blyth Spartans.

The hosts started brightly, putting Blyth on the back foot and testing stopper Peter Jameson on numerous occasions in the early stages.

Oli Johnson was denied by the goalkeeper after latching on to a through ball from Jamie Spencer and Jake Beesley saw a low shot held by Blyth’s number one.

Alun Armstrong’s side settled after a nervy start, but Bradford remained in control, spraying the ball around with conviction and confidence.

The hosts were, however, given a scare when Robbie Dale’s curling effort clipped the crossbar after the veteran winger cut in from the right and pulled the trigger.

Despite struggling to gain a foothold in the opening exchanges, Blyth took the lead as the half-hour mark approached. Michael Liddle swung in a delivery from the left that was met by the head of Sean Reid, who powered a header past Steven Drench.
Bradford immediately embarked on a hunt for an equaliser and demonstrated their ability to carve Blyth open in the late stages of the second-half.

Spencer’s volley was lifted just inches above the crossbar after the ball fell kindly to him on the edge of the box, minutes before Jameson palmed Johnson’s curling effort wide at full stretch.

The Spartans did pose a greater attacking threat after taking the lead and went close through Daniel Maguire, whose cross almost found the bottom corner.

HALF-TIME: Bradford (Park Avenue) 0-1 Blyth Spartans

The early stages of the second-half yielded little in the way of entertainment but Danny Lowe did make a superb last-ditch tackle to prevent Dale going one-one-one with Drench.

Nicky Clee was the first player to catch a glimpse of goal after the break, but his speculative effort failed to find the target.
The palms of Drench were then stung by Maguire, but the goalkeeper collected after initially parrying the strike.

A corner delivery from Nicky Wroe was only cleared as far as Knight and the Bradford man struck, but a deflection diverted the effort away from danger.

As the hosts went for the jugular, Branson charged out of defence before unleashing a powerful strike that Jameson pushed wide in impressive fashion.

Barely a minute later, Branson put Bradford back on level terms when he was teed up by Mark Ross and saw his deflected header fly past Jameson.

With six minutes remaining on the clock, Blyth substitute Jarrett Rivers received his marching orders for a horrific foul on Spencer.

Deep into stoppage time, Blyth were awarded a penalty when the referee penalised Branson for a push on Maguire. Spartans stalwart Dale stepped up but was denied by Drench’s heroic save.

FULL-TIME: Bradford (Park Avenue) 1-1 Blyth Spartans

Bradford (Park Avenue): Drench, Ross, Lowe, Wroe (Nowakowski 71’), Killock (c), Spencer, Knight, Branson, Beesley, Johnson (Hurst 71’), Clee.

Unused Substitutes: Toulson, Atkinson, Dawson.

Blyth Spartans: Jameson, Nicholson, Liddle, Green (Laing 87’), Buddle, Watson, Holmes (Rivers 71’), Oliver, Maguire, Reid, Dale (c).

Unused substitutes: Fewster, Mullen, Wrightson.

Referee: Barry Lamb

Attendance: 373