AT THE halfway point of the season, Bradford (Park Avenue) are a team with a serious uphill climb ahead of them.

Sitting 20th in the 22-team National League North as we head into the new year, Bradford have once again been unable to escape the seemingly increasing inevitability of a relegation battle.

After a strong 2018/19 season, which saw them reach the play-offs, the club have found themselves consistently towards the bottom end of the table since and, unfortunately for fans, this season has been no different.

Yet another West Yorkshire side who find themselves struggling to claim any sort of domestic form, Avenue have won only three league games so far this season.

And though they may be showing signs of improvement, it doesn’t detract from the fact that they still face a tough ask to guarantee their safety.

Here's a look at the highs and lows of Avenue's 2021/22 season so far...

Best performance: Avenue 3 A.F.C. Telford United 2

A clash between two sides towards the bottom end of any division often promises to be an exciting watch and this match proved no different.

Hosting the visiting Telford, Avenue put on a spectacle with their opponents at Horsfall Stadium in November.

Backed by their home support, Avenue initially slumped to 2-0 down, courtesy of goals from Dom McHale just after the half hour mark and Jason Oswell mere moments after the second half commenced.

After the game, Avenue manager Mark Bower noted the importance of the strong winds that had arrived on the day of the tie.

Knowing they would be playing against it in the first half, he hoped his side would be able to utilise it in the second, an idea no doubt hampered by Telford doubling their lead so soon after the restart.

Despite being 2-0 down, Avenue rallied and pulled one back through new signing Simon Richman, before equalising through Nicky Clee.

The Bradford side then went on to take the lead with about 20 minutes to go through Adam Nowakowski.

The hosts were resilient and held on to their lead, capturing a vital three points through an incredible comeback.

Worst performance: Alfreton Town 5 Avenue 1

One of the two 5-1 maulings that Avenue have suffered so far this season, yet the one against Kidderminster Harriers was far less deserved.

Mark Bower described that as “probably the most flattering result for an opposition that I’ve been involved in for a long time”, noting that his side had much of the possession and many chances, but unfortunately found themselves on the wrong end of the scoreline.

The visit to Alfreton, however, was far more concerning.

Within 10 minutes, Avenue found themselves 3-0 down and, after such a slow start, it quickly became apparent that the match would be far less competitive than they may have liked.

Though they went on to have some chances, they struggled to break down the resilient Alfreton defence.

Adam Nowakowski was able to pull one goal back, but this served only to re-energise the home team, who went on to score a further two goals after Avenue were given a glimmer of hope.

As if the scoreline wasn’t bad enough, it was Conor Branson who scored the fifth for Alfreton against his former team, providing an extra sour twist to an already disappointing day for the Bradford fans.

Signing of the season: Johnny Saltmer

Although he may have lost his place in the starting XI currently due to the arrival of former Bradford City goalkeeper George Sykes-Kenworthy about four weeks ago, the signing of Johnny Saltmer has probably been Avenue’s best piece of transfer business so far this season.

The keeper arrived from Darlington on a free transfer in the summer and has since proved himself to fans as a more than capable shot-stopper.

Saltmer’s acrobatics have earned Avenue several points throughout the season, with the keeper making some crucial saves in the opening half of the campaign.

Not only has he performed well in the league, but in cup competitions he has maintained his high standards, perhaps most memorably in the FA Trophy second round against Marine, when his two penalty shootout saves proved vital in helping Avenue win a thrilling tie.