Chester 3, Bradford park Avenue 2
A second-half fightback proved too little too late yesterday as Bradford Park Avenue suffered an agonising defeat in the Evo-Stik League Premier Division at leaders Chester.
There was a minute’s applause before the game as a celebration of the life of Trevor Storton - a stalwart as player of the home club and later manager of the visitors.
This was the first meeting of the two clubs since Storton’s untimely death a year ago.
Avenue had a chance to take an early lead but Alex Davidson chipped wide with only the home keeper to beat after taking Mark Hudson’s through ball.
The home side were soon settled, and midway through the first half Bradford keeper John Lamb had to be alert to deny Chris Simm, and then Iain Howard a minute later.
It was not long before Chester broke the deadlock and once they had the floodgates opened as they raced into a 3-0 lead in a nine-minute spell.
The opening goal came just after the half-hour mark when Michael Taylor netted after Avenue had failed to clear a corner.
Minutes later, Marc Williams struck with the first of a rapid double.
Williams swept the ball in after Avenue’s defence failed to intercept Alex Brown’s through ball and he headed in the third to convert a Wes Baynes free-kick.
Avenue’s comeback was not immediate and Lamb had to be on his toes to make three top-drawer saves to keep the scoreline at 3-0.
But there was a reaction from the Bradford players and late penalty drama that made it a tense finale.
A set-piece led to James Knowles heading home Avenue’s first reply, and ten minutes from time Nicky Matthews was brought down in the area.
Rob O’Brien, who had joined the fray from the substitutes' bench minutes earlier, saw his spot kicked saved but he hammered in the loose ball.
It made the score a respectable 3-2 but was just not enough for the visitors to upset the leaders and claim a double over them, although Avenue do remain in the play-off places.