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Play-off chasing Bradford Park Avenue need to beat Oxford home and away
Bradford Park Avenue face a tough trip to Oxford City for the first game of a double header on Saturday, knowing they must take six points against the mid-table outfit if they are to keep alive their outside chance of promotion.
The Bradford club are in their first season back in Conference North but have outstripped expectations and are currently eighth.
They are only five points off the play-offs but have played more games than four of the seven clubs above them.
Four victories before last Saturday’ home postponement and a good point at play-off rivals Gainsborough Trinity in midweek has kept alive Avenue’s hopes of gate-crashing the end-of-season extras.
However, these consecutive fixtures against a good Oxford side that trail Avenue by just eight points but have two games in hand signal the start of a very testing run of games.
Trips to Boston United and FC Halifax Town, sandwiching a home game against Harrogate Town, follow for Bradford.
With only 11 games of the season remaining, opportunities are few and maximums will be precious.
Avenue’s point at Gainsborough in midweek was just as precious as Trinity are one their direct rivals for fifth place.
With Chester running away with the league and already paid out on as champions by the league’s title sponsor Blue Square Bet, Guiseley ensconced in second place and Halifax being Brackley Town’s only threat for third place, it is a scramble for the fifth and the last promotion play-off place.
Spokesman Lewis Sale said: “It was a very good point at Gainsborough from a very close game. It must have been good for the neutrals. The goal was a stunner - another screamer for Scoobie (Richard Marshall).
“Gainsborough were beaten play-off finalists last season, so that shows just how well we have done this year. Even at 1-1, neither side wanted the draw and both went for a winning goal.
“They were dangerous on the break, and in injury time we were under some pressure so you could say the whistle came at a good time for us - but overall it was probably a fair result as both sides created good chances on the day.
Last Saturday’s postponement - at home to Altrincham who are also chasing fifth - gave Adam Clayton, Paul Walker, Tom Corner, Alex Davidson and Nathan Hotte extra time to recover from niggling injuries.
All five were involved at Gainsborough and no fresh injuries were picked up, so Bradford will go to Oxford with a full squad.