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Chris Howarth the FA Cup hero with late Bradford Park Avenue winner
Bradford Park Avenue 2, Penrith 1
There was late FA Cup drama at Horsfall Stadium but it will be Avenue who are in tomorrow’s fourth qualifying round draw thanks to Chris Howarth’s last-gasp winner.
John Deacey’s men were being frustrated by a determined Penrith outfit and the clubs were locked at 1-1 when five minutes of stoppage time were signalled.
But deep into that added on time, when the tie appeared destined for a replay in Cumbria, Howarth brought the house down with a bullet header.
The afternoon had started badly for the midfielder as he steered the ball wide of a gaping target in the eighth minute. It was the game’s first chance but the visitors were soon threatening John Lamb’s goal at the other end.
Penrith were quite prepared to soak up any pressure Avenue could muster and midway through the first half they relied on their resolute defence.
Paul Walker, Howarth and Chib Chilaka all had shots blocked as the visiting players put their bodies on the line.
A Walker free-kick was blocked and Richard Marshall fired the rebound over the target as Avenue continually knocked at the door.
Skipper Nathan Hotte wriggled through at one point but his low cut-back along the edge of the six-yard box just eluded Chilaka and Walker.
Penrith ended the first half with some good breaks and forced a number of corners, before beginning the second half with a real onslaught.
They caught Avenue cold and the home defence was at sixes and sevens as the visitors bossed the opening five minutes.
Just as Avenue seemed to have weathered the storm, creating chances for Alex Davidson, Hotte and Walker in a short spell, Penrith broke the deadlock.
The visitors forced a throw-in and there was a long delay before it was taken as they made a substitution.
Avenue switched off again and when the throw-in was eventually taken, a defender’s head sent it looping into the area and Martyn Coleman reacted quicker than anyone to stab the ball in.
Minutes later Avenue boss Deacey made his first change, replacing Chilaka with Jason St Juste – and the winger’s pace terrorised the Penrith defence.
The visitors were tiring and soon picked up two yellow cards. They then conceded a worse offence as Howarth was brought down following a free-kick that had been delivered into the area.
Marshall despatched the resulting penalty, drilling it to the keeper’s right as he dived to his left.
Even though Avenue were now on terms, the contest was far from over and it was not a case of the visitors crumbling. They rallied but could not get through to threaten Lamb’s goal.
The corner that led to the winning strike had the home supporters initially groaning as it was swept low to the corner of the area – but Hotte chipped it to the far post, where Howarth launched himself at the ball and sent the masses into raptures.