IT is beginning to look like a great escape is going to be needed if Bradford (Park Avenue) are to achieve Vanarama National League North safety after they dropped 11 points adrift of the safety zone.

Their performance in a 2-1 defeat at home to Boston United, witnessed by 481, didn’t merit damning headlines as Mark Bower’s side stood toe-to-toe with a team firmly in the play-off picture.

However it was a familiar tale for Bradford who failed to convert their chances and made mistakes of their own against much more fancied opposition to condemn them to a fifth consecutive loss in the league.

Read more: Bower baffled by referee decisions in Boston defeat

With captain Keith Lowe and loanee Jon Royle departing the club earlier in the week, Jake Hibbs made his debut and Liam Hughes came in.

Tom Clare was also handed a start against his former club, replacing Oli Johnson to lead the line.

Bradford’s 2020 at Horsfall got off to the worst possible start when Dominic Knowles opened the scoring 45 seconds in, composing himself excellently to slide it past the onrushing Joe Green.

However, Avenue put the disappointment of going behind to one side as they had the lion’s share of the possession and looked dangerous when they got Alex Hurst on the ball.

The talented young forward used his good footwork to force Alex Penny to bring him down, though referee Paul Brown deemed that the foul did not warrant a yellow card.

Clare was adamant that he was brought down in the Boston penalty area after Hibbs had played him through, although his appeals were rejected by Brown.

Ryan Hall had the home side’s first real opportunity to level when his effort was well parried by Peter Crook. Hughes should have scored from the resulting corner but his header fell wide.

United always looked potent on the break and this came to fruition when Jake Wright and Jordan Thewlis broke, with the latter putting his strike wide of the far post.

The match sparked into life when Green fumbled a corner, which the home fans thought was a foul on their goalkeeper, before former Avenue defender Simon Ainge smashed home.

However, the hosts responded immediately from the kick-off with Nicky Clee placing a volley into the bottom corner from 20 yards out. The comeback was firmly on.

The half ended with the pair exchanging chances, firstly Green did great to deny Boston top scorer Thewlis before Avenue’s own frontman had a golden opportunity.

Clare was played through one on one before being denied a goal against his old club by an amazing Crook palm onto the post.

It was a second half which failed to live up to its predecessor with chances elusive for both sides.

Clare remained frustrated from that miss before the break and was hooked off for Oli Johnson.

However, Bower was limited with his options from his four-man bench with the three other members more useful at the other end of the pitch.

Boston nearly sealed the three points on the 70th minute mark when Thewlis’ low effort was spilled once again but the Avenue number one did brilliantly to redeem himself by stopping Wright’s rebounded shot.

It was an uneventful ending to normal time but Bradford awoke when the four minutes of additional time was signalled.

Crook again did great to turn away Adam Nowakowski’s hooked effort and Johnson’s strike narrowly evaded the far post.

Although there wasn’t too much between the teams on the day, the fifth defeat in a row ramps up the pressure on Bower’s side who will be aiming to stop the rot when they travel to 15th-placed Hereford next week.