Bradford Park Avenue 2 Harrogate Town 1
Park Avenue went top of the Conference North for at least 24 hours after a solid performance saw them beat their near-neighbours Harrogate Town at Horsfall Stadium last night.
The Yorkshire derby proved to be an entertaining and eventful game, but a late strike from the visitors was too little to snatch a share of the spoils.
With four points from their opening two games, Park Avenue can feel well satisfied with their start to the new campaign.
They came out of the blocks well and were a goal to the good in no time at all. A through ball from Richard Marshall found Martin Drury and the marauding left back buried a low shot into the net with just 40 seconds gone.
The visitors’ first shot on target came in the 11th minute from the boot of Luke Dean, but home keeper John Lamb was equal to it. The Avenue stopper later gathered Lloyd Kenny’s shot from outside the area.
Bradford’s Chib Chilaka was looking lively and combined well with Paul Walker, both had chances that they put narrowly wide or over. Town’s former Guiseley and Farsley striker James Walshaw almost equalised before the break but Ryan Qualter cleared his header off the line and Drury then blocked a follow up effort.
Town boss Simon Weaver made a change during the interval, Nathan Cartman coming on for Adam Nowakowski, but it was Avenue who went close early in the second half when Matty James just failed to convert a Drury corner.
A Dave McGurk header following a free kick was straight at Lamb as Town threatened but Avenue doubled their lead just before the hour. A Drury free kick caused problems for the visitors’ defence and Qualter got a touch to Chilaka who slotted in.
Chilaka almost made the game safe but his dipping 20-yard lob grazed the top of the bar on its way over the target. Then Walshaw pounced to keep the game finely balanced.
A low ball into the area was deflected into his path and he showed all his class with a clinical finish.
Town pushed for a late leveller but created only one more chance of note which Lloyd Kerry volleyed wide from outside the area.
With several games scheduled for tonight Avenue’s leadership may well be shortlived but the feeling of satisfaction in the dressing room over a derby win will linger longer.