Bradford (Park Avenue) picked up a hard-fought point on the road at a foggy Kidderminster on Saturday afternoon.
The cold January snap meant an anxious wait for football fans all across the country on Saturday morning, as announcements flooded in of multiple postponements up and down the English football ladder. However, at the Aggborough Stadium in Kidderminster concerns were eased as the referee deemed the pitch playable.
The Avenue were keen to atone their defeat last time out at the hands of Spennymoor Town, their first loss in seven games, and had to deal with plenty of pressure in the opening half an hour from the Harriers. Nonetheless, some determined Bradford defending combined with a string of Sykes-Kenworthy saves managed to keep the home side at bay.
The resolute defending paid off just past the half hour mark as Avenue forward Jordan Preston produced a calm finish beyond the Harriers goalkeeper Thomas Palmer to give the Green Army the lead, the perfect way to celebrate the news of his loan extension from Spennymoor Town earlier in the week.
Buoyed by the opener, Bradford (Park Avenue) soon went in search of a second as the fog began to worsen, with Jacob Blyth’s dangerous cross narrowly dealt with by the Kidderminster defence. The Avenue continued to manage the game well as the first half came to a close, with a dangerous Will Longbottom free-kick once again causing problems for the home side.
As the second half progressed, the Kidderminster attack began to turn the screw in their search for an equaliser, with Shane Byrne’s long-range effort sailing just over the crossbar and more fine goalkeeping from George Sykes-Kenworthy, this time denying the Harrier’s Ashley Hemmings.
As the fog worsened and the view from the stands became more obscure, it was clear that it was going to take something special to beat the in-form Avenue stopper. Sadly for Sykes-Kenworthy this proved to be the case, as the Kidderminster equaliser came from a stunning overhead kick courtesy of Amari Morgan-Smith, the Harriers striker following up on a deflected Joe McGlynn effort in spectacular fashion.
With sixteen minutes of normal time remaining, both sides pressed through the thick fog to try to find a winner, but the two sets of defences remained firm as clear-cut chances were hard to come by.
The Avenue faithful will no doubt be delighted with the resilience shown by their side to earn a point on the road at Kidderminster, but such is the ambition of manager Mark Bower that he felt a tinge of regret over the result. When asked if he was pleased with the point, Bower reflected: “overall pleased with the performance, just a little bit disappointed that we’ve not managed to hold out to get three points.” Bower was also full of praise for the travelling fans, adding “credit to our supporters, great support for us, we couldn’t actually see them from where we were when the fog came down, but they made themselves heard”.
The point means Bradford (Park Avenue) remain 17th in the Vanarama National League North, three points above the relegation zone. Next up for the Avenue is the visit of promotion hopefuls Chorley this Saturday. Despite only one loss in eight games, it is now no wins in five for the Green Army. Having played more games than most of the sides below, Avenue will be hoping to make the most of home advantage before back-to-back away fixtures next week.
FULL TIME: KIDDERMINSTER HARRIERS 1-1 BRADFORD (PARK AVENUE)
(31’) GOAL – Kidderminster Harriers 0-1 Bradford (Park Avenue) – Jordan Preston
(73’) GOAL – Kidderminster Harriers 1-1 Bradford (Park Avenue) – Amari Morgan-Smith
Attendance – 2,193
Writer: Stephen Grimshaw (@sgsportswriter on Twitter)