BRADFORD (Park Avenue) secured a vital victory in their battle against National League North relegation by beating Chester 1-0 at Horsfall on Saturday.

An early goal from in-form Brad Dockerty proved to be enough, with an exhausted home side, who had Covid problems within the camp over Christmas and New Year, somehow holding out in the face of a Chester onslaught.

The win took Bradford above Blyth Spartans, Guiseley and Farsley Celtic, and now puts them six points clear of basement club AFC Telford United, with only the bottom side to be relegated this season.

Avenue took the lead against Chester after only nine minutes, with new signing Akeem Hinds, who had only joined a day earlier on a short-term deal from Buxton, picking out Dockerty with a great cross.

The winger took full advantage, and slid the ball beyond Louis Gray to put his side in front.

Anthony Dudley headed a corner just wide for the visitors, as they looked for an instant equaliser.

Rob Apter then went close with a couple of efforts for Chester, but the youngster was denied both times by Avenue's former Bradford City goalkeeper George Sykes-Kenworthy.

Declan Weeks was wasteful on more than one occasion in the first half for the visitors, while Apter was again denied by Sykes-Kenworthy before the break.

Apter fired wide four minutes into the second half, before an unmarked Weeks headed a cross wide moments later.

Dudley thought he had equalised when the ball squirmed free from a challenge between him and Sykes-Kenworthy, but it rolled inches wide of the post.

Weeks forced the heroic Avenue goalkeeper into another save, before striker Zack Clarke glanced an effort wide.

After some brief as the home side rang the changes, the next Chester onslaught came with 20 minutes to go.

Clarke forced Sykes-Kenworthy into another save, before a fierce strike from Weeks flew inches over the crossbar.

Apter then whistled an effort of his own over the bar, while moments later, Weeks made time and space for himself, only to be denied by Sykes-Kenworthy.

And despite Chester still producing wave after wave of attacks right up until the final whistle, they were unable to create any more clearcut chances, and Avenue held out for a win against all the odds.

After the game, relieved Avenue manager Mark Bower said: "It's been a really difficult week.

"Pretty much all the staff and several players have been off because of Covid, so we shut everything down.

"We only trained on Thursday, and even that was just two of the players and our goalkeeper coach Danny King taking a session for the lads.

"We worked on nothing, we've not been able to do much at all and I think you could see at the end of that game that the lads were running on empty.

"The adrenaline has got them through and we've managed to win a game where we've not played as well as we've played in plenty of other games this season."

It is a quick turnaround for Avenue, who are back in league action at Horsfall this evening against Gateshead (7:45pm kick-off).