Vanarama National League North: Bradford Park Avenue 3 Harrogate Town 1

BRADFORD Park Avenue not only put themselves back in the Vanarama National League North play-off race with this derby win over second-placed Harrogate Town, but Mark Bower's men also handed the title to rivals Salford City.

It was a superb performance from Avenue as they signed off the regular season at Horsfall Stadium - they have one away game remaining against Kidderminster Harriers next Saturday.

That last game may not be Avenue’s final game of the campaign, however, as the win over Simon Weaver’s side, who were the only club that could have denied Salford top spot, lifted Bower’s men back into the play-off places.

Avenue climbed above Spennymoor Town following the north-east club’s 1-0 defeat at Curzon Ashton.

It could have been an even better for Avenue as they would also have leapfrogged Chorley had the Magpies not got a last-gasp winner in a seven-goal thriller at Tamworth, whose relegation has now been confirmed.

Chorley are two points better off than Avenue but have a game in hand.

Spennymoor are a point worse off but have played two games fewer.

Bower said: “It’s nice to have taken it down to the last weekend potentially – depending on results this midweek - but I think we needed to be above Chorley to have a real chance of the play-offs.

“We are the biggest outsiders to still be in the top seven when the season finishes, but you never know.

"If we do get the chance to compete in the play-offs, we have players just coming back to full fitness.

“I was able to name a strong bench. Rob Atkinson was on it and he wouldn’t have been able to play a full game but he came on late and got some minutes.

"I should be able to name a full compliment again for the Kidderminster game next Saturday, which is always a good thing for a manager.”

Avenue are not out of the equation because of a comprehensive victory over their neighbours, who remain second.

The scoreline suggests that it was emphatic and, although it wasn’t as it remained a close contest, it was still quite straightforward.

A foul on Adam Boyes just outside the area midway through the first half led to a corner that Nicky Wroe took and Boyes’ header looped over Town keeper James Belshaw.

Avenue took that lead into the break and doubled it soon after the hour with a superb counter attack.

Home centre back Shane Killock had been yellow carded for a challenge near the corner flag in Avenue’s half, but the visitors wasted the resulting free-kick and Avenue broke away.

A swift move ended with a superb touch from Wroe just inside the visitors’ area and Frank Mulhern drilled a low shot under Belshaw.

It promised to be a tense finish as Harrogate halved Avenue’s lead with seven minutes remaining, Jake Wright pouncing on a rebound after home keeper Steve Drench could only parry a close-range drive.

However, just four minutes later, Avenue secured the points when Boyes grabbed his second.

Oli Johnson had been at his mercurial best throughout and another piece of masterly ball control opened up the chance of a shot.

His effort was parried by Belshaw, but only to Boyes, who lashed the ball in from point-blank range.