Stalybridge Celtic 2, Bradford Park Avenue 0

Bradford Park Avenue’s search for their tenth league victory of the season goes on after a fourth defeat on the bounce left them just outside the Blue Square Bet North play-off zone.

Yet again it was a frustrating loss for Bradford as they played a full part in the game but failed to find the back of the net.

Avenue have not only failed to pick up even one point from their last four games, and they have also been goalless in that spell.

Avenue forced the first chance, Tom Corner’s effort from a Rob O’Brien cross being saved by the home keeper, but they found themselves behind in the third minute.

The home side launched a counter-attack and a Jack Laird shot cannoned back off the bar straight to Jamie Mullan, who rifled the rebound home.

Soon after that it was the visitors who were threatening. O’Brien fired over from outside the area and minutes later Adam Clayton sent in a glancing header to a Jordan Snodin corner that was headed off the line by a defender.

The home side came back with a shot from Laird that brushed the outside of a post but Bradford countered and a well-struck shot from Richard Marshall forced Celts keeper Alex Cairns into a diving save to palm the ball for a corner.

It was end to end, with Stalybridge soon on the offensive again but when Laird got a head to a cross from Tom Buckley, Clayton deflected the ball over the target.

In Avenue’s next attack, Marshall picked out Paul Walker with a superb crossfield pass but Matty James just failed to connect with Walker’s delivery into the goalmouth.

The half-time interval was extended as the match referee had picked up an injury in the first half and, despite treatment, he was unable to continue so his senior assistant took over in the middle.

The Celts’ defence stood firm as Avenue came out strong for the second half and, after a brief spell on the back foot, they doubled their advantage.

In a 61st-minute attack, Laird laid a square pass into the path of Buckley, who fired an unstoppable shot past keeper John Lamb into the bottom corner.

Lamb made a good save to deny Laird before Avenue were reduced to ten men when Marshall picked up his second yellow card in quick succession.

That was the last straw for the visitors and ended the game as a contest.

Avenue’s press officer Lewis Sale said: “John (manager Deacey) and the lads were stunned in the dressing room after the game.

"It is so frustrating for them because there were so many chances and balls into the area that just needed a boot on them.

"That just makes them all even more determined to turn it around and start finding the goals again.”