Farsley Celtic 2-1 Bradford (Park Avenue)

AFTER the woeful friendly defeat to Yorkshire Amateur last time out, Mark Bower expected a greater performance from his Avenue side at league rivals Farsley Celtic, and he got it.

A more solid Avenue team took to The Citadel pitch with the likes of captain Nicky Clee and goalkeeper Dan Atkinson back.

It was a midfield trio of the skipper, Jake Hibbs and Isaac Marriott that impressed in the opening period. However, that was not a concurring theme at the top end of the pitch.

With Oli Johnson absent, utility man Adam Nowakowski struggled to get anything going and looked better when deployed in a deeper role protecting the back four in the second half.

In what was a slow start, Avenue had the better chances and could have taken the lead. Knight and Marriott both got in behind after beating Celtic defenders. The latter found Clee whose low effort rolled wide.

The match was certainly played in a meaningful spirit. Marriott's flying challenge on Will Hayhurst and Jimmy Spencer placing his studs into Matty Downing’s chest were the standout incidents. The players almost forgot that the league season is still a fortnight away!

The trialist winger was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet. Ex-Avenue keeper Steve Drench came to his side’s rescue by making himself big to deny.

It was almost against the run of play when another former Horsfall man Adam Clayton jumped up above the rest to put the hosts in front from a corner. Worrying signs for Bower as that was the fourth set piece goal his men have conceded this pre-season.

Dan Atkinson pulled off a superb save to tip Jimmy Spencer’s curled effort over, before Mark Ross prevented Farsley taking a two goal lead into the break by clearing left back Joe West’s attempt off the line.

Bower was forced into making a half-time change. Minutes before, Clee pulled up holding his hamstring. In his place came a player who really took it too the opposition.

Brad Dockerty was a revelation off the bench. His fancy footwork throughout would have wowed a crowd, if present.

It was a sign of things to come when he made Drench stand tall to halt his narrow effort. As minutes later, Dockerty gave Avenue a much-deserved equaliser.

The pacey winger cut in from the left to the edge of the box where he saw his low strike bounce off a Celts player to wrong-foot the keeper.

Other than the goal, Bradford’s defence seemed fairly unbreakable. Luca Havern and Mitch Lund led the backline well, limiting the hosts to blazing long range efforts for the majority of the contest.

Tabish Hussain replaced the aforementioned trialist on the hour mark and, at times, delighted with his silky skills on the right hand side.

With the game petering out for a fair draw, Ross brought Tyler Walton down in the box to hand the home side victory from the spot with the last kick of the game.

In all honesty, it was unfair on Bower’s side who deserved at least a draw. They would gain revenge in a meaningless penalty shootout post-match though. Jamie Lyons grabbing all the glory, or lack of it, with the winning penalty in a 5-4 win.

Overall, it was a decent night’s work for Bradford who, after the cancellation of their proposed final friendly with Spennymoor Town, will be hoping to arrange a final pre-season showing on their new pitch.

Bradford (Park Avenue): Atkinson, Ross, Lund, Havern, Downing (Toulson 60'), Clee (Dockerty 45'), Hibbs (Trialist 80'), Marriott (Windass 77'), Knight (Lyons 80'), Nowakowski (Trialist 85'), Trialist (Hussain 60').

Farsley Celtic: Drench, Richards (B.Atkinson 62'), Ellis (C), Clayton, West, Allan, C.Atkinson (Walton 62'), Byrom, Hayhurst (Syers 62'), Spencer, Charles (Parkin 62')