Bradford (Park Avenue) 2 Halesowen Town 2

IT is often said that experience is a crucial tool to have in any team, and this proved evident on a day where Mark Bower fielded a team of youngsters, who in the end were rescued by one of their oldest statesmen.

Captain Keith Lowe leaped above everyone to bullet his header into the back of the net and keep Avenue in the FA Trophy as they will now have to travel down to the Midlands for the replay on Tuesday.

Bower was forced to start six players aged under the age of 23 for the first round tie as he made five changes from the team he selected in last weeks 2-0 win over Altrincham.

New signing Tom Clare, Nicky Clee and Jon Royle were all cup tied, while full-backs Ryan Toulson and Reece Staunton also missed out.

It allowed returns for Adam Nowakowski, Isiah Bazeley, Isaac Marriot with Mitch Lund and Liam Hughes making their first appearances since the 3-2 loss against King's Lynn last month.

After heavy rain the night before, the Horsfall pitch passed an 8am inspection but the effects of the weather certainly played their part in this contest.

There were early signs that football played on the deck may not be the order of the day when the ball continued to bobble when simple five yard passes were played in the opening minutes.

However, Avenue's top scorer Lewis Knight was not concerned as he capitalised on a Halesowen mishap to coolly slot past Brendan Burr with an outside the foot finish.

This seemed to wake the visitors up, three minutes later full-back Robert Evans went on a marauding run down the right side of the Avenue defence to put himself in a one-on-one position.

The defender held his composure brilliantly to slot past an on-rushing Joe Green and equalise for Town.

The wind was also playing a damaging effect with any through ball or punt forward automatically increased in pace, leading to an uneventful end to the first half.

It appeared that Paul Smith provided some inspirational words at the break as his Halesowen side were immediately on the front foot seeking to gain an advantage.

Two minutes in, the Yeltz caused a goalmouth scramble, Green originally did well to save from a header but was then clattered while floor-bound leading to a short stoppage.

Bower was given a headache when Knight found himself in a heap on the halfway line, the exciting forward was adjudged to have tweaked his hamstring causing him to be replaced.

The Halesowen fans, who packed out the away stand and almost made up for half of the 285 in attendance, were sent into raptures when they took the lead through a Ashley Sammons penalty.

With 15 minutes left, Bradford were determined to not be condemned to their second defeat in four games as they searched for a valuable leveller.

Step forward captain fantastic, Lowe met Alex Hurst's perfect delivery to head home for his first goal of the season.

Avenue nearly nicked a route into the second round in the 88th minute when substitute Andre Johnson struck onto the post, to almost prevent a midweek five-hour round trip.

On the balance of all things considered, the draw was a rather suitable result for two sides who were unable to play their usual style of football due to the conditions.

Bower's number strapped squad will now have to recharge the batteries immediately as they have another attempt to reach the second round for the first time since the 2015-16 campaign.