THERE seems to be no let-up for Bradford (Park Avenue) as they were narrowly beaten 2-1 at home by Brackley Town to leave them 14 points adrift at the foot of the National League North table.

After getting hammered 8-0 in the reverse fixture, it was always going to be an uphill battle for Avenue. However, Mark Bower’s men looked a completely different outfit this time out.

Only three players remain from that dreadful day in Northamptonshire and the difference was palpable.

However, performances can only take you so far and it is now seven defeats in their last eight for Bradford, a miserable state of affairs with only 15 games remaining.

Read more: Key moments the difference, says Avenue boss

The Bradford boss named an unchanged starting 11 from the side which battled to a 1-1 draw at Hereford.

It was the home side who started the brightest with the trio of Nicky Clee, Alex Hurst and Oli Johnson all getting in dangerous positions without damaging the best defence in the league, which has conceded only 14 goals in their previous 23 games.

The visitors hadn’t played in a fortnight due to several postponements and it was noticeable for the first half-hour before James Armson’s footwork left Liam Hughes in a heap. Joe Green denied his chipped effort.

The third-placed Saints were in again shortly afterwards with top scorer Lee Ndlovu capitalising on a lucky deflection, forcing the onrushing Green to make another good save. The alarm bells certainly started to ring.

Holding out until the break seemed a strong possibility for Bradford before controversy struck on the stroke of half-time.

As Alex Hurst attempted to drive out of defence, he stumbled into a Town attacker leading to screams from the touchline for a foul.

Yet referee James Westgate wasn’t interested and let play continue, allowing Matty Lowe to earn his side a corner.

The resulting set-piece caused a goalmouth scramble which Ndlovu poked home for his 15th goal of the season.

It is fair to say Mr Westgate didn’t receive the most welcoming of returns to the tunnel.

After an uneventful first 15 minutes to the second period, Brackley added their second due to a calamity from the unfortunate Green.

Originally, the Avenue number one made a superb save from the in-form Ndlovu, who has now bagged 11 in his last nine games, sprawling to his right.

However, as play continued, Green produced a poor punched clearance which fell straight to the head of Armson who could not miss for his ninth of the season.

Effectively, the game was over for Avenue at this point but Bower refused to down tools and brought on his only threats from his four-man bench, Lewis Knight and Tom Clare.

The changes meant the match, attended by 256 spectators, was finally end to end with both teams launching a number of attacks.

The away side should have captured their third when Ndlovu was played through over the top but the Vanarama Player of December squandered his lob.

Jake Hibbs responded with a powerful drive that Danny Lewis had to tip wide.

Veteran Glenn Walker would have then scored if it wasn’t for Mitch Lund and Green doing brilliantly to close down his strike.

Bradford did gain some solace in injury-time when Clare finished amazingly from a corner to gain his second goal for the club.

Although, it was merely a consolation as Avenue were once again edged out of any points against a team battling for promotion.