BRADFORD (Park Avenue) slipped another place to fourth in the Vanarama National League North after suffering a fourth defeat from their last five league games, losing 3-0 at Brackley Town.

Since the calendar year began Avenue have banked just one point from a possible 15 and two players have gone through the exit door as Nicky Wroe departed on Friday, following Ben McKenna the previous week.

Both players have gone to direct rivals as Wroe signed for Boston United, making his Pilgrims debut from the bench against Guiseley at Nethermoor yesterday, while McKenna joined promotion rivals Chester.

However, Avenue travelled to St James Park looking to build on the point they earned from a home draw against Blyth Spartans. It was the Saints who gained though as their win propelled them into the play-off places, Brackley are now sixth and just four points behind Avenue.

The home side’s Danny Lewis was the first keeper in action as he smothered a goalbound effort following an early throw-in for Avenue, but the visitors’ stopper Steve Drench was the busier.

Brackley’s Omari Sterling-James, signed on loan until the end of the season from Mansfield Town, was the first to be thwarted by Drench and from the resulting corner the Avenue keeper saved a close range volley from Oran Jackson.

Carl Baker sent in a long ranges effort that Drench saved but the forward found the back of the net minutes later. Baker picked the ball up 25 yards from goal and lashed a superb shot into the top corner.

Drench had one more save of note, palming a low drive from Matt Lowe around his post, but Avenue had a couple of half chances before the break. Jake Beesley headed an Oli Johnson cross just wide and Luca Havern planted a header from a Lewis Knight corner inches wide.

Mark Bower was looking for a second half comeback from his players but it didn’t come as the Saints began the second period with intensity.

Drench picked up a yellow card for a foul on Lee Ndlovu but, as the resulting free-kick dropped for Jimmy Armson, the Avenue keeper redeemed himself as he gathered the Brackley man’s shot.

Drench made another save to deny Armson but he was beaten for a second time just before the hour mark. Baker began the move and found Shane Byrne with a through ball, Byrne raced to the line before cutting back a cross that Ndlovu headed home.

The third was made by Matt Lowe as he beat his marker and laid the ball into the path of Baker who fired in off the underside of Drench’s crossbar.

The only bright spot for Park Avenue was the appearance of Danny East from the bench 10 minutes from time. East ruptured his Achilles tendon in a pre-season friendly and has been sidelined since.