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Northwich fate leaves Bradford Park Avenue in poll position to finish second
Bradford Park Avenue 3, Frickley Athletic 0
Bradford Park Avenue booked a place in the Premier Division play-offs with a comfortable Evo-Stik League win over West Yorkshire rivals Frickley Athletic.
The victory, coupled with a defeat for Chorley, lifted Avenue to third place – which is effectively second following news that broke late on Friday.
Northwich Victoria, who Avenue visit on Tuesday, currently sit second but are to be removed from the league at the end of the season and will not be allowed to compete in the play-offs.
That is dependent on the outcome of any appeal to the Football Association that the Cheshire club may decide to launch after accusations of financial irregularities. But Avenue’s participation in the end-of-season extras is now assured.
Horsfall boss John Deacey was delighted that his players responded so well after the last-gasp defeat to Guiseley in the West Riding County Cup final just days earlier.
“That was a fantastic performance, especially on the back of Wednesday’s disappointment,” said Deacey.
“We had played well that night as well and didn’t deserve that (Guiseley scored in stoppage time to win 1-0) but the lads showed spirit. The only disappointment on Saturday was the injuries.”
Avenue lost Jordan Deacey to a facial injury and possible concussion and skipper Rob O’Brien with a damaged knee.
The afternoon had begun so well for the home side as they took a second-minute lead.
O’Brien broke free on the right and put a low centre into the six-yard box, where Nicky Matthews tucked home at the near post through the arms of Frickley’s former Avenue goalkeeper Steve Dickinson.
Avenue doubled their advantage midway though the half when a Deacey corner picked out Matt Dempsey. His downward header went over the line off Danny South’s shin, the big striker having come back to help out his defence.
The hosts should have been three goals to the good just before the half-hour mark. A good shot on the turn from Deacey was blocked and when the ball was worked back to Matthews, his shot was saved by Dickinson.
Central midfielder Deacey had already taken one blow from the ball full in the face but continued after treatment. He then got another and was clearly rocked by it. More treatment was needed and although he continued to the break, he did not reappear.
Tom Greaves replaced him and took up a position on the right of the front three, which meant O’Brien dropping back into the midfield. That reshuffle lasted all of 11 minutes before the skipper was chaired off after failing to recover from a challenge.
Greaves chipped in with the best goal of the day when he stunned Dickinson with a superb strike from near the right touchline.