7:10pm Sunday 27th April 2014
By Ian Whiting
Oxford City 1 Bradford Park Avenue 1
Bradford Park Avenue limped over the finishing line to their long campaign with a draw but the point was enough to see them end the season in the top ten of the Conference North.
Avenue’s patched up squad took to the field for the last time before a much-needed period of rest and recuperation. They sent their travelling fans into the summer recess with a smile on their faces and a spring in their step after seeing their team come from a goal down.
The home side were awarded an early penalty but John Lamb saved Steve Basham’s spot-kick. It was Basham’s last game for the club, both he and fellow 36-year-old team-mate Chris Wilmot having announced they are hanging their boots up.
The veterans spent most of their playing careers in the full-time game but had become fans’ favourites at Marsh Lane over the past couple of seasons so it was an emotional afternoon for Oxford City.
Avenue playmaker Jordan Deacey made the starting line-up. He had been down to start last week’s penultimate game but had to withdraw after not making it through the warm-up.
However, there was more disappointment for him as he lasted barely 15 minutes.
Deacey was forced to make way, with defender Spencer Harris coming on for him and leaving Bradford boss John Deacey with a reshuffling job. The only other substitute deemed fit enough to play was assistant manager Mark Hume, also a centre back.
Before the rejigged team had settled down Oxford’s Zac McEachran pounced to give the home side an 18th-minute lead.
The visitors did soon find a formation that worked and began to battle back against their lowly hosts.
They eventually got their reward when Richard Marshall fired in the equaliser from the penalty spot after Chib Chilaka had been brought down in the area 11 minutes from time. Minutes later Hume was forced into action as Chris Howarth failed to make it through the 90 minutes.
Oxford City finished third from bottom but were saved from the drop by Vauxhall Motors’ resignation from the league.
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