Physically and mentally drained Park Avenue face big test of character (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Physically and mentally drained Park Avenue face big test of character
CUP HEARTBREAK: Amari Moran-Smith celebrates after firing Kidderminster Harriers in front two minutes into the first period of extra-time on Tuesday night Picture: Adrian Hoskins
It was not the baker’s dozen that proved unlucky for Park Avenue as the curtain came down on their long unbeaten run.
Bradford’s exit from the FA Cup in midweek came after 13 games without defeat but boss John Deacey will find out more about his players in tomorrow’s Conference North clash at home to Gloucester City than he did from any of the previous 13 fixtures.
He will be looking for the players to show grit, determination and character. Not just because they suffered their first loss since the opening week of the season but because of the manner of their defeat.
It was a heartbreaking 2-1 reverse in extra-time of the fourth-round replay. Avenue had matched second-placed Conference Premier outfit Kidderminster Harriers for more than 180 minutes.
Avenue would have won the initial meeting had it not been for one momentary lapse of concentration.
They should have taken the lead in the goalless replay but the width of the post thwarted them twice.
Then, after falling 2-0 behind in the first period of extra time the Harriers might have expected Avenue’s spirit to be crushed but they responded by halving the deficit and pushing the home side all the way.
Deacey will have to lift his players now for the bread and butter of the league in a home game against a Gloucester side ten places below them in the league.
He will also have had to manage their recovery after Tuesday’s draining journey and marathon match which followed hot on the heels of the original clash on the Sunday.
Gloucester are fourth from bottom after losing more than half of their league fixtures and they could be in the relegation zone if they lose at Horsfall Stadium. They have also played more games than the three clubs below them.
Avenue could do with a repeat of score-line from the corresponding fixture last season when they ran out 2-1 winners, although Avenue lost the away game 1-0 after skipper Nathan Hotte put through his own net.
There was only one change to the Avenue staring line-up at Kidderminster, with Jordan Deacey replacing on-loan Leeds United midfielder Simon Lenaghan.
Deacey began his comeback from a double arm fracture at Horsfall when came on as a substitute for Lenaghan. On Tuesday Lenaghan came on from the bench, Richard Marshall making way.
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