Bradford (Park Avenue) 2 Morpeth Town 4

AVENUE fans trudged away from the Horsfall unhappily as their side had just exited the FA Cup with a whimper against a club from a step below on the football pyramid.

Morpeth Town were rivals of Avenue’s near neighbours Brighouse Town in the lower tier of the BetVictor League last season but they won the title and promotion to the BetVictor Premier.

Morpeth, the Highwaymen, met with Vill Powell’s Brighouse four times last season and they have already met twice this season. They were drawn against each other in the preliminary round of the FA Cup and the initial meeting ended 2-2 at Brighouse with Morpeth winning the replay 3-2 in Northumberland.

Their experienced squad went one better against Avenue as they used their physicality and game management knowledge to outwit their hosts’ youth and potential. The home side ended with 10 men after Josh Heaton picked up two yellow cards and that also had a big influence on the result.

Avenue’s interim-manager Marcus Law pulled no punches, saying: “First of all well done to Morpeth Town and best of luck in the next round, they deserved to go through.

“Secondly I have to apologise for that second half performance because that was not acceptable in any way, so apologies to the fans and everyone involved with the club.

“I can assure everyone that me and Lee (Fowler, assistant) didn’t change anything at half time, in fact we said go back out there and give us more of the same.

"We’d done OK up until then and we felt a bit unlucky to be a goal down as we’d had a shot deflected wide, had hit the post and Dan (Sweeney, on loan signing on debut) had put a great chance just wide.

“We could see the side struggling and once we had the man sent off and they score from the free-kick, at 3-1 down it’s just desperation football from then on. It’s the cup and it doesn’t matter how many you lose by so we gambled.

“We made changes, which included throwing Cressy (Ryan Creswell) up front and we create one great chance and it falls to him.

"He’s the last man it needed to fall for as he was on for the flicked on headers, one of which created another chance and one that we scored from, but he wasn’t up there to score the half-chances and that one went begging.

“I was very disappointed with the way we conceded at least two of the goals and I’m going to have to look back at the footage to see what went wrong. So the overall feeling is one of frustration.”

Brad Dockerty was the man denied by the base of the post in the 18th minute but Avenue were already a goal down by then after Joe Walton had netted a low shot in the ninth minute.

Riccardo Calder scored a superb equaliser with a low shot whipped across the face of visiting keeper Dan Lowson, but Sweeney slotted wide from the edge of the six-yard box and Sean Reid netted a far post header minutes later to restore Peth’s lead.

Heaton’s sending off just after the hour led to a free-kick just outside the area and Reid curled it past Avenue keeper Rhys Taylor.

Walton made it 4-1 with a fierce late strike that took a deflection to leave Taylor flat footed, but Dockerty pulled a goal back just before the three minutes of stoppage time began.