BOXING Day is usually a time to sit back and delve into yesterday's leftovers and festive treats. However, there was none of that at the Horsfall Stadium as Bradford (Park Avenue) packed a punch to upset rivals York City.

It was no stocking filling, nor a present from a distant relative, as both sets of players served up a six-goal thriller worthy of top billing on anybody's Christmas list.

A few City fans made the 40-plus mile journey across the county. Peeking through the fence at the Odsal end, they provided a reminder of the type of atmosphere we were missing for this enthralling Yorkshire derby.

Mind, it clearly did not seem to affect the hosts who put in a season-best performance to earn Mark Bower a first home victory over York at his fourth attempt.

More importantly, it was a result which ended a four-game winless streak, gained Avenue only their second three points at Horsfall, and provided more evidence Bower can rally the troops, even if they are a few short.

The manager's presence in the dugout helped the players enormously as his leap for Harry Boyes' sealer showed his passion on the touchline is infectious.

It was an enforced change minutes before kick-off which turned out to be a masterstroke. 50-50 Jordan Windass, who was named on the team sheet, had to pull out meaning Matty Downing started at unfamiliar right back.

The full back was tough in the challenge and issued a 'you shall not pass' call to the York left winger. Bower said: "Matty was outstanding. A real example to the dressing room about looking after yourself when you are not in the team."

The man who replaced the ex-Leeds United man earlier in the season certainly showed why in this game.

Loanee Boyes repeated the strike he bagged at Gloucester City; a 25-yard controlled finish pinpointed into the keeper's top left corner. His boss remarked: "We are a little bit shy in pulling the trigger sometimes! We encouraged the lads to hit them with the wind going that way."

Bradford relied upon their in-form frontman to produce the main goods though. Lewis Knight bagged his ninth and 10th of the season and could have had a hat-trick in the first period alone.

His first was an acute finish from a tight angle down the right after Adam Nowakowski had supplied, then he tapped home easily when Brad Dockerty smacked the post in the second half. The 22-year-old is living up to his potential this term.

Sandwiched between those two goals was Regan Booty's fine solo effort assisted by debutant Will Longbottom. Composure was king here; the midfielder left a York defender in his wake as he calmly stroked past the helpless Peter Jameson.

On the surface, York may feel hard done by. Corner after corner came in and Matty Brown and Sean Newton headed wayward. Robbie Tinkler, Scott Barrow and Michael Woods each blazed over too.

It was a classic game of cat and mouse in that opening half. Repeatedly, Bradford broke on the possession-heavy visitors with great success.

So much so, that Steve Watson was forced into two changes at the break to try energise his team - although it did not seem to really work.

Despite Dan Atkinson making a few saves he should be making, Jack Redshaw was the only thorn in Avenue's side. The tricky number 10 reduced the deficit with a deflected strike from distance.

The makeshift defence stood strong, Luke Lyons battling well in his first showing in his preferred position.

Substitute Rob Guilfoyle's goal would have certainly caused panic amongst the ranks last season, remember Kings Lynn Town at home? But not this year, Park Avenue went again, and Boyes ended matters in style.

14th-placed Bradford still sit in a compact mid-table with only two points separating them from the losers in fifth. This remarkable campaign of twist and turns continues, who knows where Bower's men will finish come the end of April?


Avenue: Atkinson 6, Downing 7, Ross 6, L Lyons 7, Boyes 7, Nowakowski 6, Clee 6 (Sanyang 90'), Booty 8, Longbottom 6, Knight 9, Dockerty 6. Subs not used: Fawcett, J Lyons, Hussain, Johnson.

Goals: Knight 5, 57, Booty 20, Boyes 82.

York: Jameson 5, Duckworth 5, Brown 4, Newton 4, Barrow 6, Tinkler 6 (Guilfoyle 5, 60), Woods 6, McLaughlin 4 (Wright 4, HT), Dyson 4 (Bunn 5, HT), Cassidy 5, Redshaw 7. Subs not used: Flatters, Spratt.

Yellow cards: Wright.

Goals: Redshaw 56, Guilfoyle 70.

Avenue man of the match: Knight.