Spennymoor Town 3-0 Bradford (Park Avenue)

CHRISTMAS carols were sung before the match but there was no festive cheer for Mark Bower and his bottom-placed side on an afternoon to forget as Mark Anderson became Avenue’s Scrooge.

The substitute scored two goals in a 15-minute spell which put the game beyond the visitors who are now eight points away from survival after Kettering’s win at Alfreton Town.

The latter was a finish that wouldn’t look out of place on any footballer’s showreel as Anderson smashed in a half volley from 25 yards which flew past the debuting Tom Nicholson.

Bower must have been relieved coming into the game to recall several of his previously cup-tied first teamers; Nicky Clee, Tom Clare and Jon Royle regained their places while Nicholson replaced the injured Joe Green.

However, the Bradford boss was dealt a stroke of bad luck in the morning which would haunt him throughout the fixture when the returning Reece Staunton fell ill in the morning, resulting in Clee having to play at left back.

Despite a quiet first 20 minutes, the match sparked into life when both sides started to exchange chances as they went toe-to-toe, exciting the 1,097 in attendance.

Clare had the visitors first opportunity when he should have done better after connecting with Clee’s cross from the left. The forward produced a timid header straight at Matt Gould.

The sixth-placed hosts responded by smashing the crossbar through Rob Ramshaw, whose deflected effort from the edge of the box surprised the Bradford goalkeeper.

Adam Nowakowski, who was making his 100th appearance for the club, was forced to come off with a hamstring injury to start a series of problems for Bower.

The pair of teams traded goalmouth scrambles on the half hour mark. Firstly, Clee had to clear off the line, then Avenue broke leading to Isaac Marriott having a golden opportunity to break the deadline.

The number seven was poised to put his team in the lead before producing a scuffed strike which was easily captured by Gould.

The deadlock was broken when Ramshaw held his composure brilliantly to slide home past the onrushing Nicholson.

As the Bradford manager suffered another headache, with Mitchell Lund departing with a back injury, his team almost went another goal down as Ryan Hall capitalised on Keith Lowe’s and Billy Priestley’s mistake at the back to place his effort onto the bar.

Spennymoor allowed the away side to come onto them after the break as Bower reacted by bringing on the returning Lewis Knight off the bench.

Bradford’s top scorer looked dangerous when he had the opportunity to run at the Town defence but was ultimately shepherded out of his side’s dismal second-half performance.

On the hour mark, Avenue’s fortunes were made worse when Anderson was introduced into the fold, using the following ten minutes preparing to punish the visitors.

The 30-year-old's strikes could not have been more contrasting. The first he couldn’t miss as the speedy Hall cut back to Glen Taylor who rolled his effort onto the post before the midfielder smashed home into an empty net.

His second was a 25-yard wonder strike which condemned Bradford to their 15th defeat of the season and the seventh league loss since the start of Bower’s second tenure.

Sandwiched between the two finishes was a chance for Alex Hurst who did brilliantly to cut in from the left and was unlucky to see his shot saved by the head of the unknowing Gould.

A late red card for Carl Magnay, after he committed his second bookable offence, did nothing for Avenue’s spirits on an afternoon which dispersed any merry feelings they may have had.