BRADFORD (Park Avenue) gave fans exactly what they wanted on the road to Darlington – a first National League North win of the season.

The game started with a good tempo and neither side were afraid to dive in for a challenge. It showed when Darlington’s Will Hatfield was booked for a fourth-minute lunge.

Bradford’s keeper, former Darlington man Johnny Saltmer, was called into action on 14 minutes when George Smith’s corner nearly looped into the far corner, only for the visiting stopper to claw the ball over his own crossbar.

That save proved crucial, as it kickstarted Darlington’s first-half capitulation.

With Bradford (Park Avenue)’s first real chance, Luke Rawson teased a low cross into the box which Kallum Griffiths attempted to steer away, only to turn the ball into his own net to give the away side the lead.

Hatfield’s effort tested the reflexes of Saltmer, while Jake Cassidy whistled a drive just beyond the post, but the hosts still looked anxious and disjointed at the back and there was a sense that another goal could just come out of nothing.

As Avenue broke up the pitch, Jordan Windass received the ball from the right and his low cross found an unmarked Rawson, who was on hand to tap home.

Lexus Beeden spared the blushes of the Quakers in first half stoppage time, when a teasing cross found Akeel Francis at the back post, only for the Darlington defender to intervene at the vital moment.

The half-time whistle blew to a chorus of boos from the home crowd, as Darlington stared down the barrel of a third straight defeat.

Avenue didn’t have things their own way when the second half restarted. with home substitute Jarrett Rivers finding room in the box just minutes after his introduction.

His low cross drifted wide of the left hand post, just a matter of inches from a player in white.

Avenue attempted to sit back and see the game out but Darlington were asking plenty of questions in a second half performance that was the complete opposite to the first.

The visitors’ resolve broke when Luke Charman made his mark in the 65th minute, climbing highest to head home from a Rivers corner.

Tempers flared moments later in an off the ball incident between Charman and former Quaker Adam Nowakowski, with both players escaping with a yellow card.

The Quakers continued to pile on the pressure and Cassidy thought he’d levelled the game when his header flashed wide from Kallum Griffiths’ cross.

From the resulting goal kick, Bradford substitute Oli Johnson broke free from a flick on, but his low effort was tame and untroubling.

Moments later, Saltmer produced heroics to keep the away side in front. He parried the initial shot from Charman away, before brilliantly denying Hatfield from close range on the rebound.

With seven minutes of added time, Darlington huffed and puffed for a late equaliser but in the end, they just ran out of time - and Avenue’s fans went home very happy.