MARK Bower is hopeful the experience and knowhow of central midfielder Simon Richman will help his Bradford (Park Avenue) side pull away from danger.

Avenue looked safe when they beat Farsley Celtic 1-0 three weeks ago, but three defeats in a row mean they are just eight points clear of the Celts, who still occupy the sole relegation spot, but have hit some form.

Richman, who got Avenue's goal in their 2-1 home defeat to Gloucester City on Saturday, could play a key role again tonight, when Bower's side visit fellow strugglers Blyth Spartans.

The Avenue boss said: "Simon's energy and the ground he covers is phenomenal.

"He was key to us getting on top in the second half on Saturday.

"We went to 4-4-2 at the break, and from then on, he dominated the midfield, scored his goal, and put Lewis Knight through for a great one-on-one chance.

"He's been magnificent, because when we lost Jake Hibbs to a broken leg early in the season, we were light in that area.

"Bringing him in has been a real boost for us, and we really need him."

Bower felt Avenue were the better side against Gloucester, and had to just accept that the visitors took their chances when the hosts didn't.

But he is not complacent about getting dragged back into the relegation battle, saying: "We haven't played great in recent weeks, not before Saturday.

"Others below us were always going to win games, and we know if we don't get any more points, we'll go down.

"We're confident we can do so, but we need to turn words into points.

"After we beat Farsley earlier in the month, there was some complacency around our position, with people saying we were safe, but we know it's not done, and we've hammered that home to the players.

"We want to get properly safe ASAP, so we have to keep going and get those two or three wins we need."

One might come at Blyth, who Avenue beat 2-1 in the reverse fixture at Horsfall in October.

But the North-East side won at play-off chasing Chorley on Saturday, and Bower said: "Everyone is capable of beating anyone on their day.

"Blyth have beaten Gateshead, Southport and Chorley now, who are all top six, but (second-bottom) Guiseley beat them easily when I went to watch that game last Tuesday.

"The league is really strong, and it will probably be the strongest team ever to go down, whoever does.

"The difference towards the bottom is that teams lack consistency, and that's something ourselves and Blyth are looking to work on."

It was an arduous trip to Horsfall for Blyth on a Monday night five months ago, but the boot is on the other foot this evening.

Yet Bower said: "We're a bit more comfortable, as I think that extra day, this game being on a Tuesday rather than a Monday, makes a big difference.

"We've done okay on Tuesday, as our last away game on one, we beat York 3-0.

"Blyth is a trek, but it means the players can take half-days and prepare and relax more on the way up, rather than working until five, then having to eat and rush to the game if we were at home or close by."

Bower expects Blyth to come just too soon for Mitch Lund (groin), but Dylan Mottley-Henry (knee) is set to be in contention.