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Bradford Park Avenue get chance for revenge over FC United in play-off final
Bradford Park Avenue 5, Hednesford Town 0
Avenue are just one game away from promotion to Blue Square Bet North after cruising to victory over Hednesford Town.
The visitors were already 3-0 down and out of the game when frustration got the better of skipper Jay Denny.
The Town midfielder launched himself into a two-footed challenge on Richard Marshall and was sent off.
Marshall, who had opened the scoring with a 26th-minute penalty, escaped injury and went on to wrap up the scoring as Avenue went nap.
The play-off semi-final victory means John Deacey’s men will have home advantage over FC United of Manchester in the final.
Avenue host their red rose rivals next Saturday as they get a chance to gain revenge following last year’s semi-final Horsfall defeat to FC United.
Bradford had to overcome a testing opening period against Hednesford, with both clubs troubled by the elements but the visitors appearing to settle more quickly.
But once the home side got on top, they made their dominance count with the only setback coming when they conceded a late first-half penalty.
The deadlock was broken when midfielder Jordan Deacey was tripped millimetres inside the visitors’ area but the referee was right up with play and pointed to the spot. Marshall fired his spot-kick into the bottom corner.
Five minutes before the interval Deacey floated a corner to the far post and Adam Clayton headed Avenue’s second goal.
On the stroke of half-time, James Osborne went down in Avenue’s area after a defender stepped across him but home keeper John Lamb saved Chris Clements’ penalty.
Avenue had been playing against the wind in that first period and were even stronger with it at their back.
Hednesford gambled with a double substitution just before the hour mark and switched from a 4-5-1 to 4-4-2 system.
Martin Drury went on a run just after the hour and it opened up for him as he neared the visitors’ area so he decided to shoot, burying a low shot to make it 3-0.
Denny had his rush of blood soon after and once he had departed Avenue created plenty more chances.
Another Deacey corner was converted by James Knowles’ header then in the penultimate minute Marshall was in the way of a shot from a team-mate but controlled it before spinning round to fire home.
Avenue boss Deacey said: “Some will point at the penalty save as a turning point, going in at half-time 2-0 up when it could have been 2-1, but I believe we were in control and would still have won.
“It was difficult in the conditions and with the surface but we got the ball down and played our passing game. I thought the lads were tremendous.”