MARK Bower has heaped praise on “unsung hero” Luca Havern after a late equaliser that would have made any striker proud.

The Bradford (Park Avenue) defender sealed a valuable point in his side’s 1-1 draw at home to in-form Alfreton.

As the ball made its way into the opposition box in the 88th minute, Havern found himself in unusual position.

Rather than have a nosebleed, the stopper remained cool and collected to plant a well-timed, half volley into the bottom right-hand corner from just inside the box.

Bower said: “He’s been a bit of an unsung hero this year, Luca. He’s played really well, he’s defended really well.

“We were joking before the game, with Conor (Branson) not playing, he’ll have to step up and score a goal today.

“He certainly did that for us, wearing the captain’s armband at the time. He really led by example.

“I’m really pleased for him and it was a very important goal.

“It was a striker’s finish, wasn’t it. He didn’t snatch at it, took his time, struck it cleanly and he more than deserved that goal.”

The game left the Avenue boss with mixed feelings, proud of his side’s never-say-never attitude, but dismayed by the overall performance and yet more questionable officiating.

He said: “They’ve got a really strong squad and, but for a bit of a sticky spell pre-Christmas then they’d probably be right up there.

“It’s another point on the board, it took us a point further away from that team in eighth place.

Bower added: “Having gone behind, we reacted really well and got the equaliser, which I felt we deserved, and we were the only team that looked like winning.

“I think you saw the freshness and the fitness of the squad coming to the fore. Alfreton looked very tired and it was a very positive finish.

“We’ve got to take that positive finish from the game forward into this coming weekend.”

“Obviously last season it went to the last minute of the last game of the season to get where we wanted to be. We know how important it is to keep going.”

Avenue’s next match could be pivotal, as they face a trip Kidderminster Harriers who currently occupy the spot just outside the playoffs.

Bower admits they have been something of a barometer for him since his time at Avenue, and admires their style of play.

He said: “At times you want to aspire to some of the football that they can play.

“We know that if they get it right on the day, they’re going to be as good as anything in the division.

“We’ve got to make sure that we stop that, make sure that we stop them playing as best we can.

“But equally, I think our players will be looking forward to getting on a decent surface.”