BRADFORD (Park Avenue) faded away after a bright start, but still stopped the rot with a 0-0 draw at Stafford Rangers on Saturday in the Northern Premier League Premier Division.

Both sides are struggling down towards the bottom of the table, but the draw keeps Avenue two points above the drop zone, with Stafford a point from safety.

Brad Dockerty shot over early on for Avenue before Will Lancaster came close to finding the finish after a brilliant run that took him past three Stafford defenders.

Joe Willis saw his long-range effort go just past the post as Stafford looked to respond, while some strong Avenue defending restricted further chances for the hosts.

A hefty challenge on Simon Richman went unpunished too, with Stafford perhaps fortunate not to go down to 10 men.

Jay Ford, Sam Bird and Kaiman Anderson all had efforts at the start of the second half for Rangers, the latter forcing a save out of Avenue keeper George Sykes-Kenworthy on the hour mark.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: George Sykes-Kenworthy was not overly worked, but did a good job when called upon.George Sykes-Kenworthy was not overly worked, but did a good job when called upon. (Image: John Rhodes.)

He made an even better stop from Willis’ header with 15 minutes to go, before Avenue nearly won the game at the death.

Myles La Bastide played the ball in to Chinedu Osadebe, but the forward was denied by a great stop from Cameron Belford.

The result ended Avenue's three game losing run in the league.

After the game, Bower said: “I thought we started really well, and moved the ball well, got in good areas, but just lacked that bit of quality in the final third.

“They came into the game more as it went on and I was disappointed with us in the second half.

“They threw a few more bodies forward and went direct but we had great opportunities on the counter attack.

“The real disappointment is that when we had those chances on that turnover to catch them out of their shape, our quality was so poor after the break, and we never exploited those situations like we should have done.”

Bower felt Stafford were lucky to escape a red for that challenge on Richman, saying: “It’s a red card.

“The lad over runs it and while he might get some of the ball, he lunges in with two feet straight into Ringo.

“You get away with that 15 or 20 years ago, but I thought it was such an easy decision to send him off as it was a bad tackle.

“It was pretty naughty and I doubt many players would have got away with that up and down the country, whatever the level.”

Avenue’s biggest goal threat this season, Will Longbottom, was absent on Saturday, after having an injection in his troublesome knee, which has been bothering him since he was clattered in an early season clash with Bamber Bridge.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Will Longbottom scored but took a blow to the knee against Bamber Bridge.Will Longbottom scored but took a blow to the knee against Bamber Bridge. (Image: John Rhodes.)

Bower expects the forward to be missing for the next couple of weeks, but Mason O’Malley will be out for longer, after damaging his shoulder last midweek against Ashton United.