AN early dismissal, which will be appealed, proved decisive in Bradford (Park Avenue)’s disappointing 3-0 defeat at Curzon Ashton yesterday afternoon in the National League North.

Full-back Matty Downing was given a straight red card for bringing down home striker Alex Curran after 21 minutes, a decision Avenue boss Mark Bower called “scandalous” after the game.

Curzon opened the scoring through Matty Waters on the half-hour mark, though Avenue were firmly in the contest until late on.

But goals in the final 20 minutes from Robert Evans and Dan Cowan saw the hosts rack up a decisive win.

Bradford started the game brightly, with Lewis Knight holding off Harry Flowers and forcing a fine save from Curzon’s Cameron Mason five minutes in.

Veteran player-coach Ryan Toulson blasted a half-volley just over soon after, while Flowers headed just wide for the home side.

But the turning point came when Downing was dismissed.

Flowers came close to punishing Bradford immediately, but his header crashed back off the crossbar.

But Waters did make it 1-0 soon after, striking a low effort through the legs of Dan Atkinson from 12 yards out to put his side in front.

Knight was denied by Mason moments later, before Bower decided to change formation, moving to three centre-halves, with Knight and Harry Boyes as wing-backs.

Atkinson did well to deny Curzon a second just after the break, making fine saves from Evans and Curran.

On the hour mark, it was Mason’s turn to shine, as he tipped a sizzling Toulson effort wide superbly.

That saved proved crucial when Curzon captain Evans met a low Curran cross with a diving header to double his side’s lead.

Avenue substitute Nicky Clee forced another good save from Mason, but the hosts wrapped the game up with two minutes left, when Cowan turned and fired an unstoppable effort into the top corner from 14 yards out.

The defeat leaves Bradford in 16th, though they are only four points off the play-offs.

Speaking after the game on the club’s social media pages, an apoplectic Bower raged: “It was a ridiculous, scandalous decision to send Matty Downing off.

“You don’t like to blame referees, but that performance, and that decision in particular, was a joke.

“The ball goes down the line, Matty tries to intercept it, the lad comes from behind him and goes over his leg.

“My natural reaction was that he’d given a free-kick, so I turned round to make sure we were organised to defend it, but then I saw the red card in the referee’s hand.

“It was absolutely baffling. It just completely ruined the game."

“I feel so sorry for Matty. He’s waited so patiently for his opportunity. He played really well the other day (against York) and started well today."

After reviewing the footage today, Bower added: “As we saw during the game and now confirmed in the match film, Matty cleanly intercepted a pass down the line from a Curzon player with his out stretched left leg.

"At no point did this leg make any contact with the Curzon player who came from behind Matty.

"The momentum of each player led to a collision which should not have resulted in a red card.”

"The decision played a large part in us losing the game yesterday which we cannot change, however it would be a further injustice for a player to serve a three-match ban for intercepting a pass.

"So we will be submitting the relevant paperwork in order to appeal.”