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Bradford Park Avenue apply Matt finish in late win
MY LEFT FOOT: James Knowles celebrates after scoring Park Avenue’s first goal on Saturday with his weaker foot
Bradford Park Avenue 2 Bishop's Stortford 1
A stoppage-time goal from substitute Matty James earned Avenue a home win over ten-man Bishop’s Stortford and lifted them up to seventh in the Blue Square Bet North.
The visitors were numerically disadvantaged from the 38th minute after central midfielder Matt Johnson was shown a second yellow card. Bradford had territorial advantage in the second half but left it late before snatching a deserved winner.
Home keeper Tim Deasy was the first to be called into action, although opposite number Luke Chambers was soon diving to palm out a curling shot from Danny Holland.
Midway through the first half Johnson was booked for a simple foul just inside his own half but the referee made it clear that the yellow card was for persistent offending.
The Bishops broke the deadlock after kamikaze defending from the home side. A weak back header from Nathan Hotte put Deasy under pressure and Blair Sturrock nipped in to chip the Avenue keeper.
James Knowles was covering and hooked the ball away but further confusion between keeper and defenders allowed Sturrock a second bite at the cherry and he made no mistake.
Minutes later Johnson was very late with a challenge on Jordan Deacey and the referee had no option but to brandish another yellow card and then a red.
Avenue got on level terms just before the break after yet another free-kick was not cleared properly and Knowles rifled home with his weaker left foot.
The Bishops came out for the second half with substitute Alli Abdullahi sitting as a second holding midfielder, alongside skipper Reece Prestedge, so their intensions were clear.
Avenue had the visitors on the back foot but Chambers was well protected.
Tom Greaves and Matty James were introduced for the hosts but the visitors almost fashioned a winner eight minutes from time when Johnny Herd laun-ched a missile of a throw-in but Anthony Sinclair-Furlong headed it over from close range.
Greaves came close to a winner when he did well to get in a shot that Chambers could only parry before the sub lashed in the follow-up that clipped the bar.
James went into the referee’s notebook, along with a visiting defender, following some jostling at a set-piece, but he had the last laugh.
From that free-kick the ball fell to him at the far side of the area and he rifled home through a crowd of players.