MARK Bower's Bradford (Park Avenue) are finally playing against a team in the bottom half of the Vanarama National League North, but he has warned that tomorrow's game at 16th-placed Hereford will prove no easier than their festive clashes with Spennymoor Town, Guiseley, Farsley Celtic and Boston United.

In fact, Bower feels that as many as 17 teams in the league will have realistic promotion ambitions this season, including The Bulls.

He said: "When we played Hereford (and beat them 3-2 in October) they were in the play-offs so I am surprised that they've been on a bad run. It's well-documented that they have the resources to be competitive.

"But that just shows the strength of the league. I'd say the teams right down to 16th and 17th will still think they can get up.

"There's no easy games. Anyone can give someone a game and we could find it harder against Hereford than we have over the last four weeks.

"They're a big club who'll still have the ambition to be in the play-offs and we've seen at Avenue how you can have a good run in the second half of the season to push yourselves up there."

Bradford are desperate for a good run right now too, but Bower said missed chances and a lack of set-piece threat are costing them in their relegation battle.

Striker Tom Clare had a brilliant one-on-one chance saved just before half-time in Avenue's 2-1 home defeat to Boston United on Saturday, but his manager said the whole team needs to step up.

He said: "We need more from all areas of the pitch and we need more of a threat from set-pieces.

"All round we have to look to finish, as we're creating chances but not taking them.

"As for Tom, all strikers want goals, but Tom's not had too many chances for himself. He scored in his first start (against Altrincham) and then the keeper made an unbelievable save from his header at Spennymoor.

"You have to credit the Boston keeper for the save he made on Saturday too."

That proved crucial, as despite a late Avenue onslaught, they failed to find an equaliser.

Bower said: "We should have scored in that spell at the end so we're a little disappointed but Boston are right up there for promotion.

"They had their own spells of pressure, and the better teams are the ones that make the pressure count, then see it through.

"We're on the wrong side of it at the moment, but we've had some tough games. We just need to take the effort and work rate we've been showing into the new year."

That is the least Bower will expect from what should be a full-strength side at Hereford - though they have lost on-loan youngsters Reece Staunton and Isiah Bazeley, who have returned to their parent clubs.

He said: "We should be okay. Lewis Knight has returned quicker than expected but we'll make sure in training this week.

"Everyone else came through the festive period okay, although losing Keith Lowe (to Kidderminster Harriers) was a blow, so we're working on getting a couple of bodies in, if not this week, then the week after."