Vanarama National League North: Bradford Park Avenue 1 Kidderminster Harriers 1

BRADFORD Park Avenue had to settle for a point against Kidderminster Harriers at Horsfall Stadium after the visitors snatched an equaliser on the stroke of half-time in a close Vanarama National League North game.

The sides battled hard in an even first half and, although Avenue piled on most of the pressure after the break, the Harriers always looked dangerous on the break.

There were two very credible penalty claims by the home side, following what looked like clear handball incidents, which made the result even harder to swallow.

Avenue boss Mark Bower said: “I thought we played well against a very good side but there were some big calls in the game that went against us.

“That shot from Adam (Nowakowski) in the first half was going in until one of their defenders sticks out an arm and deflects it over.

"That is a huge call because it’s a penalty and a potential red card, so we could have been looking at being 2-0 up against ten men minutes before half-time.

“Then there is the one in the second half when their defender has made as good a save as any keeper but the referee gives nothing again.

"Adam is one of the most honest people you could ever meet, and even he said that even he had to complain to the ref about the first one.

“He said he told the ref that the player had done a star jump, like Peter Schmeichel used to do, and the ball had gone off his forearm and over the bar, but the ref gives a goal kick, which was an unbelievable decision.”

It was an action-packed game in driving rain, and although there were half-chances at both ends in the first half-hour, only Avenue keeper Steve Drench had two saves to make.

Nowakowski broke the deadlock when he slid in at the far post to steer a low 38th-minute cross back across the face of Harriers’ keeper Brandon Hall’s goal, the ball crossing the line and nestling in the side-netting to Hall’s left.

The first penalty claim followed a corner three minutes later as Nowakowski shot on the half-volley as the ball dropped to him.

In the 45th minute, Harriers’ striker Joe Ironside had been pushed wide but sent in an excellent low cross that Emmanuel Sonupe poked in from close range.

Avenue dominated possession in the second half but the visitors defended well and used the counter-attack to good effect.

The second penalty claim came five minutes from time as a Jamie Spencer shot, following another half-cleared corner, was blocked by diving centre back James O’Connor.

Avenue assistant player manger Danny Boshell, who had been an unused substitute, added: “We would probably have taken a point before the game because they are such a good side, but having seen how unfortunate we were, its disappointing not to have won it.”