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Spot of bother as Bradford Park Avenue let it slip
Bradford Park Avenue 2, Barrow 2
Bradford Park Avenue had conceded penalties in both their opening league fixtures but went one better – or worse – this time by giving away two and it cost them the same amount of points.
Avenue were much improved after being a shadow of themselves as they slumped to consecutive defeats as the Skrill North campaign began.
They stopped the rot by taking a point from Barrow on Saturday but should have banked their first maximum following a bright start.
Barrow were only relegated from the Premier Division last season so were potentially the toughest opponents Bradford had faced this term – and they must have used that as motivation and tore into the visitors.
Chib Chilaka was back from his pre-season hamstring strain to make his first competitive appearance and the former Bantams striker set up Nicky Boshell for the opening goal in just the fourth minute.
The home side’s kamikaze defending was apparent four minutes later when centre back Adam Clayton brought down Dale Johnson almost on the penalty spot.
Gareth Arnison spotted the ball but he was almost foiled as Avenue keeper John Lamb got one hand on it but could not prevent it crossing the line.
Another four minutes elapsed before Avenue were back in front as James Knowles hit a sweet strike from the edge of the area after a Richard Marshall cross following a corner had been only half cleared.
Avenue lost Boshell to injury late in the first half, former Barrow striker Danny Forrest replacing him, and Chilaka lasted just over an hour before he was also substituted.
The changes affected the home side but the visitors had already stepped up their game and were the more dominant side after the break.
It seemed only a matter of time before they got back on terms and did not appear to need the gift that was the second spot-kick.
With just under 15 minutes remaining, Greg Mills drove a cross into the Avenue area that hit Knowles on the leg before spinning up.
Despite Avenue’s protests, the referee was adamant it hit the defender’s arm first and pointed to the spot and, with Arnison having been substituted, midfielder Sam Sheridan assumed responsibility and sent Lamb the wrong way.
The two points dropped leave Avenue still in the bottom four before tomorrow’s Bank Holiday trip to Stalybridge Celtic. The Cheshire outfit have had a decent start and are ninth after Saturday’s 2-0 win at Gainsborough Trinity.