BRADFORD (Park Avenue) remain second in the Vanarama National League North despite slipping to a second successive defeat, as third-placed Stockport County closed the gap to just one point with a 3-0 win.

The hosts forced Avenue on to the back foot from the off and they were rewarded with an early goal.

A good move in the sixth minute culminated in Darren Stephenson laying the ball across the edge of the area for Matt Warburton. He took one touch before drilling a low shot past young Avenue keeper Jack Atkinson.

Atkinson was in the starting line up with regular number one Steve Drench on the bench and the teenager was in the thick of the early action.

His save denied Warburton a second while Stephenson, Scott Duxbury, Adam Thomas and Frank Mulhern all went close.

Avenue’s first attempt came in the 18th minute, as Alex Hurst let fly after a good run, but the ball flew over Stockport keeper Ben Hinchliffe’s bar.

The visitors then suffered an injury, with Nicky Clee needing treatment. He carried on briefly, and had a shot that went wide, but had to give in to the injury on the half hour mark. Nicky Wroe replaced him in midfield.

The remainder of the first half was end-to-end. Atkinson palmed a Thomas header away and the same player was then denied by an offside flag. He tucked the ball into the net but Mulhern had strayed offside.

At the other end, Hinchliffe saved Conor Branson's glancing header, palmed a shot from Wroe away and, minutes before half time, tipped a Mark Ross header around the post.

Stockport had a storming start to the second half. Atkinson was forced into two fine saves before Ash Palmer headed wide and a Warburton effort was cleared off the line by Danny Lowe.

Another goal seemed inevitable for the hosts and they soon put the game beyond Bradford’s reach with two goals in a six minute spell midway through the second half.

Warburton and Stephenson combined again, and this time it was the latter who lashed a low shot into the corner. The diving Atkinson got his fingertips to the ball but failed to keep it out.

Minutes later Mulhern, who had a spell on loan with Park Avenue last season, made the most of an error by the young stopper.

Atkinson rolled the ball forward ready to clear, but Mulhern was lurking and he nipped in to roll it into the empty net.

Avenue are still only three points off the top as leaders Chorley were held to a 1-1 draw at Hereford.

However, they are now just one point better off than Stockport and the chasing pack of AFC Telford United, Chester and Altrincham all won.