“I HOPE there is scouts here, and I hope in the future some of those lads are playing up the pyramid,” asserted Mark Bower after he witnessed his young side rally to a credible draw over playoff favourites Boston United.

He was not the only one casting a watchful eye over this one though. The Bantams hierarchy took the short trip across the City to settle in for a wet and windy night at the Horsfall.

On display were two teams with contrasting ambitions. After losing out in the playoff final to Altrincham, the Pilgrims will surely be amongst the league’s elite again come May.

On the other hand, Bradford are comfortable adopting an underdog mentality following last year's disaster. And it has certainly benefitted them so far this term.

This performance proved once more how far they have come under Bower’s tutelage. Riding out a bumpy first half would not have happened 12 months ago.

One of the main reasons for that is the Atkinson-Ross-Havern collaboration. The latter two have added much-needed experience, while the man between the sticks has been a revelation since being brought out of the dark.

On Atkinson, the Bradford boss said: “It raised a few eyebrows when he had not played for a couple of years and joined us in the summer, but he has certainly showed so far what he has got.”

Last night’s game produced further evidence to why he was keeping now-Bradford City keeper Will Huffer out of the team.

Two double saves and an instant reaction stop kept the number one busy in what was a first half dominated by the visitors.

A relieved Bower expected more in the second period especially offensively with a pitiful handball shout all his side had to show for their efforts.

One player the City officials may be tracking is the in-form Lewis Knight. However, it was a real baptism of fire for the nippy forward who is already into double figures.

Pierce Bird and Luke Shiels expectedly won the physical battle, and his chances to excel in behind were few and far between.

Ryan Toulson was deputising at left back with Matty Downing suspended and no reinforcement yet to cover the Harry Boyes void. The poor veteran found himself on a stretcher following a collision with Jordan Burrow which angered Bower.

“A straight leg with studs showing,” he fumed. “He (Toulson) has got a big hole on the top of his foot. It was disappointing. The evidence in the dressing room shows it was a dangerous tackle.”

The injury seemed to energise the hosts who broke the deadlock through a set piece. Full back Nicky Clee delivered his corner on aplomb for Will Longbottom to head his maiden Avenue goal.

The left-footed right winger deserved it. In his past two appearances, hard work and graft have been aplenty but being in the right place at the right time was the trait used on this occasion.

The excellent Jordan Thewlis dented any joy less than 60 seconds later when he nodded in Joe Leesley’s cross to finally beat Atkinson.

The two goalscorers could have each had a brace late on if it weren’t for good keeping by Atkinson and Player of the Month Ross Fitzsimons.

So, a solid point to jump up one place to 15th and a chance to see what young talent is on show at Horsfall is the summary.

More games under their belt to keep learning may well be the considered judgement of those in attendance.


Avenue: Atkinson 8, Windass 6, Ross 7, Havern (C) 8, Toulson 5 (Marriott 59’ 6), Nowakowski 6, Booty 6, Clee 7, Longbottom 8, Knight 6, Dockerty 5 (Johnson 75’). Subs not used: Fawcett, Sanyang, Hussain.

Goals: Longbottom 66.

Boston: Fitzsimons 6, Tootle 6, Bird 6, Shiels (C) 6, Duxbury 6, Thanoj 7, Platt 6 (Green 17’ 6), Burrow 5, Thewlis 8, Rollins 7 (Preston 75’), Leesley 7 (Dimaio 86’). Subs not used: Garner, Hawkridge.

Yellow cards: Tootle.

Goals: Thewlis 67.

Avenue man of the match: Atkinson.