The Emirates FA Cup second qualifying round: Darlington 0 Bradford (Park Avenue) 1

A THUNDERBOLT of a strike midway through the first half was enough to send Bradford (Park Avenue) into tomorrow’s draw for the third qualifying round of the FA Cup at the expense of Vanarama National League North rivals Darlington.

It came from an unlikely source as it was lashed in by the boot of right back Danny Lowe. but it was a strike worthy of winning any FA Cup tie.

The former Guiseley skipper, who was signed in the close season, broke up a Darlington attack and raced forward before unleashing a shot from distance that left home keeper Jonny Maddison floundering as it nestled in the top corner.

The Quakers had made the early running, with Reece Styche having a couple of early efforts but Park Avenue keeper Jack Atkinson made a positive start to his first competitive game for the club.

The rookie stopper made good saves to deny Liam Hughes and Stephen Thompson and another comfortable take when former Bradford City and Avenue player Simon Ainge attempted to catch him unawares.

Ainge was a centre back when he first made his way in the game but in latter seasons with Harrogate Town, and now Darlo, has transformed himself into a potent striker.

The goal came in the 24th minute, and Avenue striker Jake Beesley tried to double the visitors’ lead on the half-hour but headed wide when well placed.

Another former Bantam, Dave Syers, was introduced by the home side at half-time, with Alex Henshall making way, and he also forced a save out of Atkinson, who later tipped a Hughes header wide in an impressive debut.

There were more chances at both ends but the introduction of full back Ryan Toulson for free-running winger Ben McKenna just over ten minutes from time was an indication that Avenue were closing the game down.

They held their narrow lead, despite two chances for Styche in the four minutes of stoppage time, much to the delight of Avenue manager Mark Bower, who said: “We’re pleased to win and I think that the lads really deserved it.

“We’ve had a bad two or three weeks and – the Chester game aside – I think we were hard done by in terms of the performances we put in because we didn’t get the result we deserved.

“I thought that we should have been further in front early on and we saw what they did – shelled it to the two big lads up front.

"It’s a big club here (Darlington). and from what they were putting out during the week it sounded as though they were more than happy to have drawn us, so our lads were determined to come here and show them that it was a good draw for us!”