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Bradford Park Avenue conquer class divide to earn replay with Kidderminster Harriers
Avenue's new loan signing Simon Lenighan tracks Kidderminster's Callum Gittings as Richard Marshall looks on
Bradford Park Avenue 1 Kidderminster Harriers 1
There may have been 30 league places between these two sides battling for a place in the first round proper of the FA Cup at Horsfall Stadium today but it was not obvious which was higher ranked.
Avenue hosted Kidderminster Harriers, who are knocking on the door of the Football League in the Skrill Conference Premier, but nothing separated the sides on the pitch.
John Deacey’s side created two chances to grab a last-gasp winner but the stalemate was fair on both clubs in front of a crowd of 464.
The Harriers began well at a windswept Horsfall, forcing two early corners and a free-kick but Avenue soon settled.
They had on-loan Leeds United midfielder Simon Lenighan making his debut and he was very composed on the ball and accurate with his distribution.
Paul Walker, Richard Marshall and Alex Davidson were supporting Nicky Boshell as the lone striker and the supporting cast outperformed the star attraction. The three of them created openings and were prepared to shoot on sight, while Boshell had a quiet game by his own high standards.
After being on the back foot for the first ten minutes Avenue grew into the game to such a point that when they broke the deadlock in the 26th minute, it was a goal that had been coming.
Walker’s trickery had the visitors’ defence mesmerised. He picked out Davidson, who paused before finding the top corner of the net with a curling shot from the edge of the area.
The goal galvanised the Harriers and they could have been level seconds later when striker Nathan Blissett found space in the area. He controlled the ball on his chest with his back to goal before turning to shoot but Avenue keeper John Lamb stood tall to block the effort.
A 34th-minute corner led to the equaliser after Bradford skipper Nathan Hotte was forced to deal with a deep cross. The flag kick was whipped towards the near post by Joe Lolley and the unmarked Jack Byrne didn’t even need to jump to nod it past Lamb.
It remained an enthralling contest and a first-class advert for non-league football, with both sets of players showing skill and guile. Good openings and half-chances were created at both ends.
Lenighan’s debut lasted 70 minutes as Bradford boss John Deacey made a double substitution. The Leeds United man and Boshell made way for Chib Chilaka and Jordan Deacey, the young midfielder making his return from a broken arm.
The positive substitutions underlined the boss’s determination to get the win at the first attempt. It failed but only just.
In stoppage time Walker went on a jinking run into the area that led to chaos in a packed area and a penalty claim for handball.
Chilaka went close and Davidson hit a 20-yard shot that struck the back of a team-mate just a yard from goal as keeper Danny Lewis dived on to the loose ball.
The replay at Kidderminster is on Tuesday (7.45pm).
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