BRADFORD (Park Avenue) 1-2 Gateshead

A killer instinct upfront is something every manager dreams of having. Someone who you know is nailed on to get at least double digits season upon season.

If anything it gives the whole squad a lift when their frontman is flying, defending almost becomes easier. Yet, the scarcity of this at Horsfall remains going into the 2020/21 campaign.

You could argue that Bradford's striker has scored in both outings so far this season but that is short-termism. Lewis Knight and Adam Nowakowski are not the number nine answer.

The need for a prolific forward is clear for anybody to see and more evidence was provided in Park Avenue's opening league defeat to Gateshead.

Last year's playoff finishers were obviously favourites coming into the fixture, but were beatable after producing an expected rusty performance.

The Avenue faithful, who were absent yet again due to no fault of their own, must have been jumping for joy, behind their live streams, when they heard that Isaac Marriott and Nicky Clee were fit enough to start.

Captain Luca Havern was not though and Jordan Windass fitted in well at right back as Mark Ross moved over to partner Mitch Lund.

The hosts could have easily been two up inside the first five minutes. Knight and Brad Dockerty both stung James Montgomery's gloves from distance.

Credit to Bower's men they did get their goal on the 27th minute, through their £1-a-week man.

Windass put in a wicked cross which was met by the forehead of Nowakowski. His header clattered against the crossbar, but fortunately fell back to the versatile player to finish with ease.

Complacence was a theme last term, and Dan Atkinson was called into action to stop Kallum Griffiths headed effort on the half hour mark.

However, no fingers of blame can be pointed when witnessing Gateshead equaliser. Jordan Preston, who was a threat all game long, leaped sublimely to connect with Danny Greenfield's ball and leave Atkinson in awe as it flew past him.

Last Saturday, it was Glen Taylor and this time it was Preston who led by example. Chasing every last cause, bullying defenders and showing Bradford what they are desperately lacking.

All things considered, Bower must have been pleased with his team's bullish showing at the break.

Shortly after, Marriott had a perfect chance to level matters. He sailed Dockery's pull back over.

Bradford began to be timid and misfortune struck to cause them to fall behind.

Atkinson pulled off a stunning double save to deny Preston and Griffiths. The resultant corner was then converted by the unlucky Jake Hibbs.

The midfielder suffered similar fortune when he failed to win a spot kick. Montgomery collided with Hibbs from Clee's corner and somehow the visitors won the free kick to leave Bower "absolutely baffled."

Bower tried to rally his troops and chucked on all of his attacking options. Neither Oli Johnson, Lewis Bradley or Tabish Hussain could make any impact though.

Marriott's last-grasp chance was almost a cry for striking help as Avenue started this campaign much like the last, in defeat.


AVENUE: Atkinson 7, Windass 7, Ross 7, Lund 6, Downing 5 (Johnson 78'), Clee 6 (Bradley 88'), Hibbs 6, Marriott 7 (Windass 72'), Knight 5 (Hussain 69'), Nowakowski 7, Dockerty 5 (Johnson 66'). Subs not used: Fawcett, Lyons.

GATESHEAD: Montgomery 7, Nicholson 6, Cooper 6, Griffiths 6, Smith 6, Hunter 6, Deverdics 7, Olley 7, Greenfield 7, Preston 8 (Keating 80'), Ward 7 (Langstaff 76'). Subs not used: Dale, O'Donnell, Male.