MARK Bower has spoke of his devastation at Bradford (Park Avenue) dropping out of the playoffs.

The manager said it was gutting, particularly having seen his side dominate much of the game.

Avenue were eliminated from the first stage of the Vanarama National League North Playoffs thanks to a late Lewis Hawkins' curled effort for Spennymoor Town.

This means Avenue have been knocked out of the playoffs a stage before they did last campaign, where they face Brackley Town in the semis.

Bower said: "I think it was probably worse than last year against Brackley.

“Last year we went toe to toe with them and it was a very even game and it could have gone either way.

“This year, I thought we were by far and away the better team.

“They were very standoffish, and I think they looked a little bit scared of us to be honest."

The manager admitted his side probably lacked the quality on the night to take advantage of the good areas Avenue got into.

But, Bower also believes there were other factors at play in the match.

He said: “Nothing much went for us. A number of little loose balls just seemed to fall to one of their players or fall to one of their players in the box.

“Not to be our night, and when you have two incidents – there’s a foul on Beesley that they’re complaining is a dive, but he was definitely clipped when he was through on goal, it was a penalty in the first half.

“Then Conor Branson in the second half, he’s lining up a header from the cross and he’s just bundled like a rugby tackle almost to the ground.

“How we don’t get a penalty from those two is beyond me.

“It’s difficult to take when I feel we were the better team on the night.

“But ultimately they produced that better quality when it counts, and you have to hold your hands up and wish them all the best in the game on Sunday.”

For Avenue to even get into the playoffs marks a significant achievement given their resources. 

Bower congratulated his side for defying all odds in making it there again this season.

He said: "You look at some of the teams we've finished above, the resources that we've got, it's an unbelievable achievement to get into the top seven.

"Because we've been so far up there, I think people lose sight of the fact of what an achievement it is for our club to be in there."