BRADFORD (Park Avenue) came up just short in a five-goal thriller against Curzon Ashton on Saturday, going down 3-2 at Horsfall.

Avenue have had a strong home record in National League North this season, and they started well with an early Lewis Knight goal.

But Alex Curran's hat-trick proved decisive for Curzon, and a late goal from Bradford skipper Luca Havern proved not to be enough.

Knight put the hosts ahead after just five minutes. His first shot on the counter attack was blocked, but he put his second effort away nicely.

Curran's long-range strike forced George Sykes-Kenworthy to tip the ball on to the bar, and Jamie Cooke was unable to turn in the rebound, with the visitors arguing that a push in the back stopped him from scoring.

But Curzon did equalise midway through the first half, with Connor Dimaio felled in the box and Curran converting from the penalty spot.

After Craig Mahon flashed a shot just wide, Curran put the visitors ahead with a looping header after half-an-hour.

Sykes-Kenworthy produced another good save just before the break to keep the deficit to one, before Harry Flowers headed inches over the bar for Curzon with the first real chance of the second half.

But the dominant visitors did get their third when Tom Peers slid the ball across and Curran slotted the ball home for his hat-trick.

Peers went close with 20 minutes to go, but then Avenue started to gain a foothold.

Oli Johnson's superb curling effort clipped the top of the crossbar, before Havern netted in a goalmouth scramble after Lucas Odunston's ball across caused havoc.

But that goal came too late for Avenue to find an equaliser, and they stay 16th, 11 points clear of the relegation zone.

After the game, Avenue manager Mark Bower said: "Over the 90 minutes, we deserved to lose, as we weren't good enough for 65 or 70 minutes.

"We had a bit of a go towards the end, and could have got something out of it, but we didn't deserve it.

"It sounds daft, but probably the worst thing that could have happened was us scoring so early, as it seemed to lull us into a false sense of security and we became stand off-ish.

"Before we knew it, they'd wrestled the initiative back, and we couldn't get anything going or get back on the front foot.

"We were sloppy in possession, we allowed them to get the ball into our final third too easily, we weren't strong in areas or competing well enough.

"They showed their quality in the final third and deservedly led."

Bower added: "It was really disappointing because there's so much more in that dressing room, but we're making a few basic errors at the minute and we might be a bit low on confidence.

"I didn't think it was something I'd be saying at this stage, because especially at home, we've been doing okay and getting some good results.

"We maybe just need a little reset and to start again, because there were a few things that really disappointed me in the game.

"We have to iron those out in a good week of training, then get back to the levels we're capable of for the weekend, when we've got another home game (against Gloucester City)."