FC United of Manchester 2 Bradford Park Avenue 0
Avenue suffered their first defeat under John Deacey’s current reign but the result did not reflect events at Gigg Lane.
FC United’s keeper turned in a man-of-the-match display to foil the visitors and the home side netted twice in the last seven minutes.
The defeat sees Avenue drop to 12th in the Evo-Stik Premier Division table.
There was a surprise in the Avenue line-up, with Matty James making a return after being re-signed from Guiseley in midweek.
While that was surprising, just as big a shock was seeing the skilful, attacking midfielder played at right back.
The rest of the side was the same as the one that ripped Ossett Town apart on New Year’s Day – that 6-0 victory being Avenue’s last run-out.
They set off as though they were going to build on that last win, creating virtually all of the chances, but just could not make the breakthrough.
James started the move that led to the first opening.
A break down the flank gave him the opportunity to put a through ball to Tom Greaves. His cross found Steve Burton, whose shot was blocked and Luke Gibson hit the loose ball over the crossbar.
A shot from Adam Clayton was superbly tipped over by the home keeper, who also got something in the way of the next chance. Avenue had forced a corner that Tom Claisse whipped in to Burton but his shot cannoned back, off a combination of keeper and crossbar, in a blur.
Avenue’s own keeper, Michael Hale, was put to work for the first time just after the hour.
The visitors were soon back on the attack and a free-kick from Martin Drury was headed into the net, Burton getting the last contact in a crowd of players, but the assistant referee’s flag went up.
FC United were on the ropes at that point and how Avenue failed to score on their next foray forward remains a mystery. Aiden Savory went through twice with only the keeper to beat but both times he was thwarted.
Before the ball was cleared, Rob O’Brien, on as a substitute, rifled in a shot that was tipped for a corner and from the flag kick the same man sent in another effort that brought yet another fine save.
FC United began their smash-and-grab through their own substitute. Carlos Roca thumped the ball in after Jerome Wright had cut in from the flank and drilled a hard cross through the six-yard box.
Two minutes into stoppage time they snatched a second when Wright cut in again and this time elected to try his own luck from 25 yards.
Avenue will have no time to dwell on it as they host FC Halifax Town at Horsfall Stadium in a League Cup third round tie tomorrow night.