Bradford Park Avenue 1 Hednesford Town 2
A drama-filled seven minutes of stoppage time saw Hednesford Town lose their lead but then regain it to leave Bradford manager John Deacey fuming about ‘schoolboy’ defending.
The visitors had held a 1-0 advantage for 81 minutes before Avenue substitute Ross Gardner levelled the score.
The home side then allowed Elliott Durrell to waltz through their defence and score the winner.
Deacey said: “We battled hard to get back into the game and then, when we should have had a point from a very tough fixture, we allow that to happen. It was schoolboy, schoolboy stuff. It was pathetic.
“Right from the kick-off their lad walked through us and scored, and he wasn’t even coming at us at pace. Our defenders just fell over as he jogged past them!”
Avenue began well and Danny Glover could have capped his home debut with his first goal for the club. He raced through in the first minute but shot over from just inside the area.
They soon forced the game’s first corner but their normally excellent passing soon began to let them down on the difficult surface.
In the 13th minute Durell got a shot in that John Lamb could only parry and that led to a free-kick being conceded right on the edge of the area that Kris Taylor drilled in to open the scoring.
Hednesford, who went joint top of the Conference North with this win, could have had a much bigger lead by the interval. Lamb palmed a Neil Harvey shot for a corner and, from the flag-kick, Chris Howarth headed a Jamey Osborne shot off the line.
However, the game was not short of controversy and Avenue forward Alex Davidson was shown a yellow card for simulation after going down in the area, while Hednesford defender Paul McCone was handed only a yellow after hauling Glover down when the Avenue striker was through on goal with only the keeper to beat.
Despite Avenue’s late first-half rally, they were poor before the break. Whatever Deacey said to them during the interval certainly hit home and his side bossed the second half.
Without dominating, they were the better side and produced the better of the few goal attempts – and were definitely good value for their equaliser.
Four minutes into the minimum of four added on, Gardner lashed in a low angled drive. The home side’s elation didn’t last long as Durrell attacked from the restart and ended his run with a low shot from inside the area.
Into the seventh minute of stoppage time, Avenue were awarded a free-kick right on the edge of the area – with some players claiming it should have been a penalty – but Gardner drilled his effort into the wall.
Avenue host Leamington tomorrow night knowing that a win would take them above their visitors and local rivals Guiseley. Avenue, who are 12th, and Leamington are both on 31 points, while tenth-placed Guiseley have 32.
There is no set price on the gate tomorrow. Anyone coming through the turnstiles can pay what they want to watch the game.