Bradford Park Avenue 3, Leamington 1

A LONG-overdue victory took Park Avenue through to the first-round proper of the FA Trophy as they clicked into gear in the second half to dispatch Leamington.

They had home advantage over their Vanarama Conference North Division rivals in the third qualifying round tie but after winning just four of their 11 home games in all competitions up until Saturday’s tie, it was a dubious advantage for Avenue.

After toiling in the first half, despite being a goal to the good after just six minutes, their slender lead at the break looked fragile. However, they turned in a much-improved second-half display and ran out worthy winners.

Bradford boss John Deacey was delighted with the victory. He said: “The players have battled hard on a poor pitch and got the result. Full credit to them for that and they needed it after playing so well at Brackley Town last week and getting nothing.

“We were 1-0 up at half-time and I thought we were lucky to be a goal up. I thought Leamington were the better side in the first half but in the second half I thought we played well.

“We switched to a 4-4-2 this time because I thought Chib (Chilaka) needed a bit of support up front. Lamin (Colley) started up there with him and got the early goal, which will have done his confidence a lot of good.

“But there were some good performances all over. Danny Frost has done well, so has Jamie Price, and I thought George Smith had a good debut and John Danby played well in goal. He did what was asked of him.”

Colley pounced early to blast in from close range after the visitors’ defence failed to clear a long throw-in from Niall Heaton. Avenue couldn’t build on that, however, and Smith, the Barnsley youngster making his Avenue debut on loan, was soon in the referee’s notebook as Brakes mounted a dangerous attack.

The first half was poor and the sparse crowd were rarely on the edge of their seats as both sides struggled on the difficult surface. Fortunately the second half had much more vibrancy.

Danby made a good parry on the line from a low shot and the forward who tried to pounce on the loose ball was in an offside position. At the other end, Colley had two shots blocked and couldn’t feed the rebound to a team-mate.

Avenue launched a quick counter and a good advantage was played by the referee to allow the move to flow. However, there was a disappointing ending as Frost attempted to pass the ball into the net around Brakes keeper Connal Trueman, who gathered with ease.

Frost got another opportunity in the next minute, and this time he got it right, converting Jamie Price’s cross. Trueman, the 18-year-old keeper making his debut on loan from Birmingham City, had no chance.

Lee Chilton halved the deficit in the 72nd minute when he fired past Danby from just outside the area but Frost turned provider as Joe Colbeck made the game safe ten minutes from time.