Bradford Park Avenue 0, Hartlepool United 1
A FRIENDLY that began in dim light and drizzle almost boiled over in searing July heat at the finish.
The flashpoint, between two of the more experienced players, came just into stoppage time when Avenue's former Bantams midfielder Scott Kerr went into a tough tackle and Pools opponent Marlon Harewood over-reacted.
Kerr's challenge was on a team-mate of Harewood but the former West Ham and Aston Villa striker got involved.
Harewood was behind Kerr as he made the tackle and manhandled the Avenue man before players from both sides rushed in to separate them.
The referee lectured the pair and made them shake hands before restarting the game but 30 seconds later he blew the final whistle.
It was an ugly confrontation and totally out of context with the previous 90 minutes.
It had actually been an entertaining game, with one moment of quality separating the sides as Jonathon Franks netted the only goal with a neat finish in the 79th minute.
So it proved a successful return to Horsfall for former Avenue right back Michael Duckworth as he captained the League Two outfit. Duckworth's defence were under pressure early and Joe Colbeck cut through on a promising run but his shot from the edge of the area was weak.
The home side had young Doncaster Rovers goalkeeper John Maxsted guesting and he had little to do in the first half.
The closest the visitors came was when Harewood headed over at the far post from a Duckworth corner.
Avenue finished the half strongly and a good move involving Paul Walker, Chib Chilaka and Nathan Hotte ended with Colbeck getting in another shot. This time his low, angled drive went wide of the far post.
With 15 minutes on the clock in the second half, Hartlepool boss Colin Cooper sent on six pairs of fresh legs. One of those subs was Franks and he twice went close as well as firing in the winner.
Avenue manager John Deacey was pleased with the efforts of his squad and said: "It was a good display and we matched a full-time outfit for 89 minutes. We switched off just once and let them in for the goal.
"Joe (Colbeck) did well in the first half and Scott (Kerr) in the second – but I could pick a lot of them out because they all played well. I thought Nathan Turner was outstanding throughout the whole game.
"The only disappointment was Bradley Barroclough not being able to play. He was going to come on for the second half but pulled a hamstring."