Gloucester City 2, Bradford Park Avenue 3
A late rally from Gloucester City was not enough to deny Bradford Park Avenue a second Conference North victory on the trot as they begin 2014 in style.
Avenue had an embarrassment of riches after their latest signings which meant midfielder Richard Marshall, usually one of the first names on the teamsheet, had to settle for a place on the bench on his return from suspension.
Yet Marshall’s reintroduction was not delayed for long as he was soon called on to replace the injured Nicky Boshell before Avenue broke the deadlock midway through the first half.
The home defence were guilty of switching off when Jamie Price’s speculative effort was so far off target that it almost went for a throw-in. Bradford skipper Nathan Hotte was more alert as he kept the ball in play and passed to Jordan Deacey, who found the corner of the net.
Just three minutes later it was 2-0 after Adam Clayton had headed home a Deacey corner, which had been conceded when Avenue debutant Danny Glover’s shot had been palmed around his post by home keeper Mike Green.
The visitors were denied a third, which would have completed Marshall’s return on a high note, by an offside flag. Paul Walker did well to round a defender before sending the ball across the face of goal but when Marshall turned it in he was goal-side of the last defender.
Avenue did eventually get their third goal but it was into the second half when they scored. Glover had gone close soon after the interval and, when he was picked out again just after the hour mark, he laid the ball back to Alex Davidson, who dropped a shoulder to round his marker before drilling home a good shot.
With a little under 13 minutes remaining, Matt Groves – who had been a thorn in Avenue’s side throughout the afternoon – got on the end of a through-ball to peg a goal back.
Ten minutes later Groves then turned provider as his deep cross was converted by a back-post header from home substitute Will Morford.
But it was too little too late from the home side and Avenue held on for what was a deserved victory.