BPA 0 AFC Fylde 2

Bradford (Park Avenue) suffered their third defeat of the season at the hands of the league leaders AFC Fylde.

Avenue’s supporters were eager prior to kick-off, as the club announced the signing of former Bradford City and Tranmere Rovers winger Dylan Mottley-Henry, who returned to the club for a second spell. Akeel Francis was absent however, with the attacker self-isolating.

Jim Bentley’s Coasters asserted their dominance early on, as Jonny Saltmer, who manager Mark Bower had praised earlier in the week, came to the Avenue’s rescue with a number of crucial saves, keeping out audacious efforts from Nick Haughton, Sam Osborne and the eventual hero Alex Whitmore.

The game had signs of being a one-way contest which frustrated Bradford, and it showed as Lucas Odunston forced a poorly-timed challenge on David Perkins.

But heading into the second half, Saltmer couldn’t do much more to rescue his teammates, and Fylde captain Whitmore punished some questionable defending as he turned home Haughton’s free-kick.

Whitmore had an eye for goal at the Horsfall, as the defender nabbed his second just seven minutes later. The former Morecambe centre-back found space at the back post before coolly converting Haughton’s free-kick again, despite Bower’s calls for a foul on Avenue defender Mark Ross.

Park Avenue looked eager to avoid a drilling, and the hero at Darlington Luke Rawson looked to spark a fight back, but a point blank save from Chris Neal denied the young striker his second of the competitive season. Rawson remained keen, and had an acrobatic effort sail wide.

Both sides shared chances, with Osborne having a low drive fizz narrowly wide of the target, whilst Jordan Windass looked to replicate his heroics against Boston United with a long-range effort, but Neal was well-positioned to parry his strike.

Fylde dominated the closing stages, with Ben Tollitt having a smart move ended by another save, whilst Perkins and Jack Sampson came close, with captain Luca Havern denying the latter a third of the afternoon.

Bradford are next in action on Saturday, as Bower’s men travel to Gateshead in the FA Cup, with ambitions of picking up their second competitive victory of the season.