Bradford (Park Avenue) 1-3 Leamington

If I was to say to you an ex-Notts County midfielder was the match winner in Bradford (Park Avenue)'s tie with Leamington, many would assume I am referring to Regan Booty.

However it wasn't the home side's new signing who changed this match, instead it was one of his former teammates who he started ahead of in County's run to the Vanarama National League playoffs last term.

Sam Osborne has been ripping it up since deciding to drop down to the sixth tier of football seeking game time. The 21-year-old has now netted nine goals already thanks to his brace in the Brakes 3-1 win at Horsfall.

With Mark Bower locked up at home after contracting coronavirus, assistant Danny Boshell was provided the chance to shoot Bradford, who had fallen down to 14th post a 10-day break, back up the table.

He would receive some extra help on the touchline too. Player-coach Ryan Toulson started a three-match suspension, gained by seeing red at Spennymoor.

Booty was favourite to fill the void, although the short-termism of his arrival led to Boshell handing Luke Lyons a full debut.

The Leeds United product has been at the club for nearly a month and predominantly plays at centre half but produced some tidy work shielding the defence.

The other hole that needed padding was the one left by the dogged Isaac Marriott. Perhaps Avenue's best player this season suffered an injury against AFC Fylde and should be out until York on Boxing Day.

Poor Omar Sanyang came in. In what was a slow start for most players, the winger felt the brunt of it when he was hooked off at the break.

Both wide men struggled to make an impact to be fair. A piece of magic to make the score 2-1 was the only influence Brad Dockerty made. Boshell did say the forward always has a goal in him.

A small cluster of fans were watching through the fence next to the main stand. It was a sad indictment to what has become 'normal' in these strange times.

Tier 2 Chester are allowed their own spectators at the Deva Stadium so Bower's boys will finally be able to play in front of a crowd for the first time in nine months on Tuesday night.

Back to that first period, and on review it was the hosts' comeuppance.

Osborne opened his account rounding the overeager Dan Atkinson early on. On a few occasions since joining Park Avenue the enthusiastic keeper has been left wanting when steaming off his line.

Jack Edwards and Jake Hibbs exchanged gilt-edge opportunities at the back post. The Leamington skipper nodded wide before the Bradfordian scuffed his effort from a corner.

Hibbs fell victim to frustration in the dying embers, colliding rashly with Kaiman Anderson on halfway which landed him in bother with referee John Mulligan who was quick to brandish red.

The 15th-placed side failed to threaten Jake Weather at all, and Leamington were well-worth a second on the stroke of half time. Simeon Maye fired in at the perfect moment.

Boshell and virtual Bower must have gave their side a rollicking to wake them up. The second half was much more bright, and substitute Booty was a big part of that.

The 22-year-old brought a calmness to that rushed midfield, and almost scored from distance late on.

His old colleague stole the limelight though, finishing the game by smashing into the top corner from 25 yards. I'd put money on Osborne not ending the campaign in a Leamington jersey.

So, Bradford's poor home form continues, only taking four points from a possible 18.

Is it down to them adapting to the new surface, missing the Horsfall faithful or an inability to break down teams who tend to sit back on their travels?

Whatever the reason, Bower will know it needs fixing to prevent being embroiled in another relegation dogfight.


Avenue: Atkinson 4, Windass 5 (Hussain 77'), Ross 5, Havern (C) 6, Boyes 5, Lyons 6, Clee 5, Hibbs 4, Sanyang 5 (Booty 45' 6), Knight 6, Dockerty 6. Subs not used: Huffer, Downing.

Red card: Hibbs.

Goals: Dockerty 68.

Leamington: Weaver 7, Martin 6, Morrison 6, Lane 6, Morley 6, Osborne 9 (Meredith 85'), Clarke 6, Maye 8 (Waldron 90+2), Allen 6 (Anderson 81'), Edwards (C) 7, Smith 5. Subs not used: English, Taylor.

Yellow cards: Clarke.

Goals: Osborne 9, 71, Maye 45.

Man of the match: Osborne.