Bradford Park Avenue 0, Chester FC 0
Bradford Park Avenue finally broke their run of defeats in the most unlikely of circumstances as they held runaway leaders Chester to a goalless draw at Horsfall Stadium.
They needed a defensive display of gargantuan proportions to earn their point but, after matching and even dominating some sides during a five-game losing run, no-one would deny them the plaudits.
Goalkeeper John Lamb was in breathtaking form, including saving a penalty, and the back four in front of him were all on top of their game as Avenue’s defence stood firm.
The rest of the team also performed well as Avenue created chances of their own when they had good spells in the game.
Chester, who started the day 15 points clear of second-placed Guiseley, knew they could take nothing for granted against Avenue after the Bradford club also drew the reverse fixture. That is the only game Chester have failed to win at home this season.
The visitors had the ball in the net twice, once in each half, but on both occasions the linesman’s flag was already raised to signal offside.
The spot-kick was awarded in the 56th minute inside a packed area at a time when Avenue were under intense pressure. An angled drive had just cannoned back off the inside of Lamb’s post and, with the home defence still reeling, the offence was committed.
Chester left back Matthew McGinn’s effort was well struck but Lamb dived low to his right to make an excellent save.
Avenue, who were back to near full strength after having as many as seven players either injured or suspended recently, almost snatched all three points.
Michael Duckworth tried to catch Chester keeper John Danby off guard with a 40-yard free-kick four minutes from time.
The keeper was expecting a cross to be floated into the packed area but Duckworth went directly for the top corner. Danby was scrambling across the face of his goal as the ball flew over the angle of post and bar.
Chester substitute Nathan Jarman headed the visitors’ second disallowed goal in the last minute, the first having been swept in from a yard out near the end of the first half but also from an offside position.
Avenue boss John Deacey said: “That was a fantastic performance and after what we have been through (five unfortunate defeats) it was a deserved end to our losing run.
“Lamby answered his critics. He got some stick after the two free-kicks he let in against Guiseley but I had faith in him.
“There were some other great performances as well. It was a real team performance and I’m very pleased for the lads.”