BRADFORD (Park Avenue) 2-0 Alfreton Town

When missing bodies upfront, your best form of attack is usually defence. To a man, Mark Bower’s boys stood tall and battled until the final whistle to ensure come quarter to three they gained the three points as evidence for their efforts.

Alfreton Town arrived at Horsfall in good spirits, unbeaten in their first four, primed to give a shot at the playoffs a good go this term.

Avenue number two Danny Boshell knew what gaffer Billy Heath’s teams normally bring, hard work and determination. However, in this encounter, the visitors seemed flat and almost not up for the fight.

While, Bradford have looked the extreme opposite lately. An away day masterclass at Hereford was followed by a stern showing against Chorley. In this one though, the cutting edge was there albeit from unlikely sources.

The absent Oli Johnson had been the only player in green and white to find the target so far but that did not faze Jake Hibbs or Nicky Clee who took their goals comfortably.

Although, it was not all plain sailing for the hosts who rode their luck at times in the opening half.

Capitalising on set pieces must have been in Heath's game plan but his well built side wasted several opportunities through corners. Toby Lees, James Jones and Conor Branson all spurred chances by either heading or firing over.

In open play, Elliot Reeves was their only real threat. The red hot striker struck the crossbar and forced Dan Atkinson into action multiple times. It was the former which could have turned the game on its head.

Chorley missed a penalty last time out, and Bradford's lifeline this week was a miss from point blank range. An excellent Atkinson save denied Bobby Johnson before Reeves' effort from the rebound was blocked onto the bar by the perpetual Hibbs.

When a fresh faced Harry Boyes entered the dressing room, Matty Downing's first team place at left back was immediately in jeopardy.

His 18-year-old compatriot has looked a class above and it would come as no surprise if one day he ended up in parent club Sheffield United colours in the future.

For over an hour, pre-match worry of lacking a forward presence rung true with the hosts failing to muster much to worry George Willis.

That all changed when Hibbs started to get his eye in. Firstly, stroking narrowly wide before finishing a great move off.

Lewis Knight delivered a fine ball to the back stick and debutant Omar Sanyany's header forced Willis to save. The ball was recycled as Clee pulled it back to Hibbs who calmly slotted home.

The question was then posed, should Bradford stick or twist? The answer was certainly the latter.

Clee started a pacey break and played an inadvertent one-two with Isaac Marriott resulting in the 37-year-old producing a piercing strike into the top left corner.

Atkinson would once again show why he holds the number one jersey, despite ex-Leeds keeper Will Huffer's introduction, by tipping over Reeves' late powerful drive.

A win is a win no matter how ugly it may look, and grinding out three points is something that was definitely not happening last season.


AVENUE: Atkinson 8, Ross 6, Lund 7, Havern (C) 7, Boyes 8, Toulson 7, Clee 8, Marriott 8, Hibbs 9, Knight 7 (Lyons 76'), Sanyang 6 (Downing 86'). Subs not used: Fawcett, Huffer, Windass.

ALFRETON: Willis 6, Atkinson 7, Fox 5 (Clackstone 49), Branson 5, Lees 5, Jones 5, Smith 6 (Day 78), Bradley (c) 7, Walker 6 (Tuton 63), Reeves 7, Johnson 5. Subs not used: Lund, Unwin-Marris.