Vanarama National League North: York City 2 Bradford Park Avenue 1

BRADFORD Park Avenue are out of the play-off places in Vanarama National League North for the first time since early November following back-to-back defeats to promotion rivals.

Yestersday's narrow defeat to York City at Bootham Crescent meant that the Minstermen leap-frogged Mark Bower’s men, and it came after Avenue had lost by the same scoreline against fourth-placed Spennymoor Town the previous week.

Once again it was a tight game with little to choose between the sides, and Avenue made City work for their victory in front of a mainly partisan 2,642 strong crowd.

Bower had warned that it would be a big occasion on a big stage, and his side showed that they were up for it as they forced a couple of early corners.

However, the home side almost broke the deadlock in the sixth minute as Sean Newton’s dipping lob was just tipped over by Steve Drench.

They had an even clearer opening minutes later after good work from Newton and Aidan Connolly carved out a chance for Adriano Moke, but he shot wide.

City keeper Adam Bartlett was soon in the action and did well to hold a fierce drive from Wayne Brooksby and deflect a later Matt Hill shot just past his post.

Avenue were forced into a defensive reorganisation just before the half-hour when Mark Ross went down injured.

There was a lot of concern for Ross from his team-mates before he was taken off, and Javan Vidal came on from the bench.

Bartlett parried a shot from Jamie Spencer, and an Oli Johnson header, following a long throw-in, bounced on top of the Minstermen’s bar as the visitors pushed the home side.

York took a one-goal lead into the break though after veteran striker Jon Parkin netted his 25th goal of the season.

The big forward was picked out by Connolly’s inch-perfect pass and he slotted in across Drench.

Avenue came close to equalising early in the second half when Spencer saw a well-struck half- volley just creep over the top.

York boss Martin Gray brought Amari Morgan-Smith on in the 52nd minute, and he made a big difference to City’s attack.

The substitute was a handful and went close twice before finally doubling his side’s lead midway through the second period, bundling home a cross from City skipper Newton.

Both keepers were still being tested, and Adam Boyes had been particularly unfortunate before he eventually pulled a goal back.

He pounced three minutes into the four of stoppage time after Bartlett could only parry a Johnson effort.

There was still time for a last-gasp Avenue corner, but it was headed over in a packed area, leaving Bower’s men, who are now eighth, with nothing from an afternoon’s hard graft.