Darlington 2 Bradford Park Avenue 1

BRADFORD Park Avenue tumbled five places down the National League North table after suffering a narrow defeat in difficult conditions at Blackwell Meadows.

The Quakers had won just one of their previous 13 games but leapfrogged Mark Bower's men into tenth spot, just two points outside the play-off places.

Avenue are now four points off the play-off zone in 15th but could have been as low as 16th if Kevin Davis' new side had held on for a win.

The former Bolton and England striker was appointed Southport manager last week and his side had a 2-1 lead late on when they hosted Gainsborough Trinity in another game affected by the weekend's stormy weather.

Trinity snatched a late leveller which cost Davis' side 13th place as Southport were also in a position to overhaul Avenue in the table.

Avenue's trip to Darlington was frustrating as they gifted their hosts an early opener and were denied by the woodwork as they pushed for a draw in the dying stages. All of that left Bower considering what might have been.

"We conceded a really poor goal early on and after that they sat in and played like an away side," he said.

"I think we dominated three quarters of the game and had enough chances to win it but we weren't ruthless enough in front of goal.

"When we dominate like we did and lose, we've only got ourselves to blame. Games are decided in both boxes and in this game we weren't good enough in either."

The Quakers were managerless in the build-up but had appointed Tommy Wright on Friday. The former Stockport boss and assistant Alan White were sitting in the stands.

They will have liked what they saw but the biggest question raised on Saturday was who scored the opening goal in the second minute.

A ball into the Avenue area was turned past Ed Hall and while the home side credited it to Nathan Cartman, it was reported on the National League website as an own goal by Avenue defender Luca Havern.

Avenue then reviewed footage of the game and claimed that it was Graham Kelly who unfortunately got the final touch. Kelly's loan deal from League Two club Port Vale had been extended for another month on Friday.

Former Brighouse forward Cartman, who spent a month on loan from Darlo with Farsley earlier this season, picked up a yellow card soon after for a cynical foul on Havern.

Darlington's former Farsley and Bradford midfielder Dave Sayers was also a central character in a game that could have gone either way right until the fifth minute of added time.

Avenue either wasted chances or were denied by good blocks or the woodwork as the contest unfolded. Hall made good saves to deny the hosts' man of the match Stephen Taylor, while Sayers was thwarted by good defending.

Josh Gilles had hit the Quakers' second goal ten minutes into the second half with a free-kick that missed everyone in the area but curled inside the far post.

That was minutes after Avenue had the ball in the net when Danny Boshell charged down a kick by home keeper Adam Bartlett but it was ruled out for a high foot.

Oli Johnson headed in the visitors' penultimate-minute equaliser and almost equalised a minute later, while Havern clattered the bar deep into stoppage time as Avenue pressed.