Bradford (Park Avenue) 0-2 Curzon Ashton

WHEN the Premier League and EFL announced that they would be postponing their fixtures until April 3 on Friday morning due to the Coronavirus outbreak, Avenue fans were expecting the National League to make the similar sort of call. However, the fifth and sixth tier body went against the grain and decided to progress with this weekend's fixtures.

Cue 685 spectators from a range of different clubs to amass at the Horsfall stadium thirsty for their routinely football fix. Astonishingly over 30,000 also went to Bradford's Facebook page to tune into an unprecedented stream of the game.

Disappointingly this was not a match to showcase the quality which the Vanarama National League North possesses as the bottom club whimpered their way to a defeat to nearest relegation rivals Curzon Ashton.

After sensational victories in the past week over two of the best sides in the league, Chester and King's Lynn Town, Mark Bower would have been keen to brush aside a Curzon team who had not won in their last five.

However, struggling against lower placed opposition is a theme that has haunted his men all season, three of their five wins this season coming against teams currently in the playoff positions.

Only three players have survived from that 5-0 opening day drumming at Ashton. Alex Hurst, Lewis Knight and Mitch Lund, the remaining members from that disastrous spell under Gary Thompson.

Injuries to Adam Nowakowski and Oli Johnson meant Bower had to select a squad which contained assistant manager Danny Boshell and youth player Joe Ockerby on the bench.

Matters were made worse when captain Nicky Clee limped off only 25 minutes in, full back Ryan Toulson had to come on and adapt to a midfield role.

The packed crowd had to wait over half an hour for any worthwhile action, the relentless Knight hitting the side netting before Andrew Halls produced the first shot on target, forcing Tom Nicholson into a good low save.

With the bobbled pitch once again effecting both side's ability to play football on the deck, route one was the order of the day. The hosts came close after Tom Clare chested down a long punt and found Jake Hibbs who narrowly struck wide. However, Curzon forward Michael Calveley did not make the same mistake, slotting away nicely from a ball which floated over the Avenue defence.

Bradford were almost level at one point though. Stelios Demetriou found himself in acres of space at the back post and could not have hit it any better. Cameron Mason making an amazing dive to his right to deny the left back.

The Hash made two changes which would seal their first win in Bradford on their fifth attempt. Substitutes Tunde Bayode and Fabio Tavares used their pace immediately on the counter. The latter almost lobbing Nicholson after latching onto a long pass forward.

The Rochdale loanee did make Bradford pay on his second attempt. Bayode the one playing Tavares through to slot home calmly. Game over as Bower's patched squad were sentenced to their 23rd defeat in a disastrous campaign.

Billy Priestley attempted to get a consolation late on, but again Mason pulled off a wonder stop, tipping the central defender's header wide to leave him still on two goals for the season.

Boshell did appear for the last five minutes or so, although the game was already pretty much done as Bradford moved 12 points adrift of safety at the base of the table.

It is unknown whether Avenue's match at Leamington, who were forced into postponing their clash with Kidderminster Harries, will go ahead on Tuesday with the league set to meet again the day before to discuss the future of the their three leagues upcoming fixtures.

One thing is for sure though, Bower and his team will be hoping to put this season behind them as soon as possible after moving a step closer to life in the Betvictor Northern Premier League next term.

Match Facts

BPA: Nicholson, Byrne (Boshell, 83), Demetriou, Lund, Priestley, Hibbs, Hall, Knight, Clare, Hurst, Clee (Toulson, 23). Subs not used: Green, Ockerby.

Curzon: Mason, Baillie (Tavares, 57), Askew, Thornley, Ali, Halls, Evans, Wroe, Calveley, Broadbent (Shaw, 21), Sinclair (Bayode, 57). Subs not used: Davies, Merrill.

Bookings: Askew, Mason.

Goals: Calveley 45+2, Tavares 84.