A HARD-EARNED win from a game of few chances at Alfreton Town lifted Bradford (Park Avenue) up one place and into third in the Vanarama National League North.

It was always going to be a tough afternoon against Billy Heath’s side at the Impact Arena but Avenue remained disciplined and determined, coming away with a 1-0 win.

The hosts had an early penalty shout when visiting keeper Steve Drench came out and clattered Curtis Bateson in an aerial duel, but the referee was not interested in the Reds' protests.

Avenue’s Nicky Wroe soon picked up a yellow card after going in strongly on Bobby Johnson and Drench made his first save as he held Dec Bacon’s low drive from the edge of the area.

The visitors got over that initial onslaught and got their first chance after a foul on Wroe, which earned Bateson a yellow card.

Ben McKenna’s free-kick found Conor Branson at the far post and he headed back to Shane Killock, who volleyed over Sam Ramsbottom’s net.

Avenue’s Nicky Clee fired over after Jake Beesley had cut the ball back for him before the home side ended the first half with three half-chances. Jordan Sinnott volleyed over before Beesley made a good block to a shot following a corner and Sinnott headed over the target just before the break.

The second half began in similar vein as Bacon saw his shot blocked but the Reds did manage to get a shot through to goal, with Drench equal to Danny Lowe’s strike.

Avenue should have broken the deadlock in the 68th minute but after rounding Ramsbottom with the goal at his mercy, Beesley lifted his effort over the bar.

That miss proved not too costly as the visitors netted the game’s only goal less than three minutes later. They had forced another corner and Branson met Wroe’s flag kick with a powerful header.

Avenue manager Mark Bower was delighted with the win and the performance, albeit a sterling defensive one.

He said: “Chester apart, all five of the last games have been very tight and I thought we deserved to win as we had the better chances.

“The first half was difficult, playing up the hill. They had a bit of pressure but we still had the two clearest chances. The second half we were comfortably dealing with what they had to throw at us.

“We had a good chance just before our goal when 'Bees' did brilliantly to get himself into a shooting position and just missed. Then Conor comes up with that header at a set piece which is what we’ve been good at this season.

“I thought we defended well, it was a good clean sheet. It was probably different to the others we’ve had - we’ve been fortunate not to concede in some games - but this was a solid clean sheet.”