Vanarama National League North: Bradford Park Avenue 0 Darlington 1

BRADFORD Park Avenue continue to yo-yo in and out of the play-off places in Vanarama National League North, and they are back outside after a narrow home defeat to a determined and professional Darlington.

The Quakers came with a plan to contain the home side, who were fresh from a 5-0 home victory in midweek, and negate their front four.

With Adam Boyes as the focal point in front of Oli Johnson on the left, Wayne Brooksby was on the right and young Bradford City loanee Dan Pybus running the channels just behind Boyes.

All four had been hugely influential in the big win over Gainsborough Trinity, but Darlo proved to be a much stronger defensive unit, and their midfielders and forwards were very professional as they broke play down, bought cheap free-kicks and ran the clock down at every occasion.

Avenue manager Mark Bower said: “I thought that we started well and had a good first 20 minutes but Darlington got into the game more as it went on.

“We did well throughout the game but we lacked that bit of quality in the final third, which was unlike Monday night.

"Against Gainsborough we were on fire in that final third, yet just days later we had nothing special in that department.

“I think the first time we really threatened their keeper was 70-odd minutes, and that’s far too late in the game, but it was the same at the other end as I don’t think Drenchy (Avenue keeper Steve Drench) had many saves to make either.

“It’s disappointing, especially after Monday’s big win, but I think they deserved it a bit more than we did. There wasn’t much in the game but we were nearly men today as we didn’t do enough to deserve to come out on top.”

Brooksby tested Quakers’ keeper Aynsley Pears in the third minute but the low shot from the edge of the area was as easy as gathering a back pass for the stopper.

Avenue centre back Luca Havern headed over when he was up front for Nicky Clee’s 17th-minute corner, but the visitors began to find their feet, and Havern had to make two timely sliding tackles as Darlo mounted a 24th-minute attack.

The rest of the first half produced few chances as the sides cancelled each other out in midfield and defended well.

Brooksby needed treatment following a late challenge that wasn’t a free- kick in the eyes of referee David Underwood, while the best effort of note for the Quakers was when their skipper Reece Styche went for the spectacular with a scissor kick after a Dave Syers nod down to a free- kick.

It was former Bradford City and Farsley Celtic midfielder Syers who netted the game’s only goal.

Darlo’s right winger Stephen Thompson had looked dangerous in the first half, and just 11 minutes into the second period he got behind the Avenue defence yet again.

This time his cut back put the ball at the feet of Syers, who drilled a shot through Drench from close range.

However, the game ended badly for Thompson as he was sent off in the 85th minute for a second yellow card after a dive.