Witton Albion 1 Bradford Park Avenue 2
AVENUE won their final friendly but they needed a late burst from the substitutes' bench to see off Witton Albion.
Close-season signings Danny Frost and Bradley Barraclough began the game in the dugout alongside Bradford boss John Deacey but he knew just when to release them and the new boys finished as goal-scoring heroes.
The biggest shock was the sight of John Lamb back between the sticks for Avenue after shelving his retirement for a third time. The versatile Jack Rea, released by Conference North rivals Guiseley at the end of last season, was playing as a trialist.
The game was affected by the conditions as the weather in Cheshire was every bit as changeable as it was in Bradford. There was a downpour of monsoon proportions just before kick-off and raging thunder at the start of the second.
The wet surface obviously had an effect but Avenue were the first to adapt and Joe Colbeck tested home keeper Chris Sanna after taking a through ball from Paul Walker.
Witton’s Scott Bakkor had their first effort and the only other opening of note in the first half was when Colbeck’s cut-back presented Matty James with a shooting opportunity but he hit it over the bar.
Both sides battled the conditions as much as each other after the break but Avenue eventually broke the deadlock 15 minutes from time. Rea was involved as he found James and when his cross slipped through Sanna’s fingertips, Frost nodded in.
The visitors doubled their lead six minutes later with James again the provider. He found Barraclough, who held off the attentions of Ben Harrison before finding the bottom corner with lovely strike.
Witton pulled one back four minutes from time when Bakkor’s through ball found substitute Jon Dawson and he beat Lamb.
It was confirmed after the game that Lamb, James and Jamie Price had all signed deals for the new season, which begins on Saturday at Gloucester City.