ON such fine margins, seasons and situations can turn.

If the scores had remained as they were at half-time yesterday, Bradford (Park Avenue) would only be sat in the relegation zone of the Northern Premier League Premier Division today on goal difference.

But instead, the BD6 side let a two-goal lead slip at Ilkeston Town to draw 2-2, while Basford United scored a late winner at Atherton Collieries to leave Avenue four points from safety with four games to go.

And with Basford having five matches remaining, Avenue’s game against them at Horsfall next Saturday becomes a must-win affair, regardless of what the pair do in their Easter Monday matches.

Danny Whitaker’s Bradford host leaders Radcliffe tomorrow, while Basford entertain play-off chasing Worksop Town.

Fellow strugglers Stafford Rangers moved a point above Avenue too, with their 1-0 home win over Workington, just to complicate Whitaker and his team’s task even further.

Ilkeston made the better start in yesterday’s game, with Liam Laughlan forcing a good save out of visiting stopper Ross Flavell.

Thomas Cursons then slammed a dangerous shot across the face of goal for the hosts, before Jaiden White sent a cross over the Avenue crossbar on the stretch.

But Adrien Thibaut, who was just offside when he forced a superb save from Mathew Yates, and Jordan Preston gave Ilkeston notice that the away side were a threat in attack.

And while Flavell did superbly five minutes before half-time to deny Cursons at the back post, it was Avenue who took the lead into the break.

After being found by a superb Jake Daniels cross from the right, Thibaut’s initial headed effort was stopped at point blank range by Yates, but he atoned for missing that sitter by nodding home the rebound.

Avenue doubled their lead just eight minutes into the second half, moments after Flavell had stopped a looping effort from Callum Minkley.

Edy Maieco was the scorer for the visitors, netting a superb solo goal.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Read on to find out just how Edy Maieco got into the position to produce this pinpoint finish.Read on to find out just how Edy Maieco got into the position to produce this pinpoint finish. (Image: John Rhodes.)

Preston won a header well on the halfway line, with the ball falling to Maieco around 40 yards out.

His dancing feet bamboozled several Ilkeston defenders, giving him the space to drive forward and fire the ball beyond Yates from the edge of the box.

Flavell denied Loughlan with a comfortable save moments later but Ilkeston were struggling to create clearcut chances, and midway through the second half, Avenue looked on course for a fairly routine three points.

But as soon as Cursons halved the deficit on 69 minutes, the hosts looked like a different team.

Connor Dixon forced a fine save out of Flavell just moments after that goal, with the Avenue stopper on hand to deny Cursons his second with a quarter-of-an-hour remaining.

Bradford City icon James Hanson came on for his Avenue debut to help out at set-pieces, but he was powerless when Ilkeston got the reward their pressure deserved just moments after he arrived on the field.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: James Hanson's Avenue debut did not quite go to plan.James Hanson's Avenue debut did not quite go to plan. (Image: John Rhodes.)

It was Declan Errat-Thompson who equalised in the most bizarre of circumstances on 77 minutes, scoring directly from a corner.

In a frantic finale, White went close from range, before Harrison Hopper almost nicked the three points for the visitors, beating home keeper Yates to the ball but heading the great chance wide.

And Ilkeston nearly inflicted the ultimate damage on Avenue in stoppage-time, as Minkley’s header dropped just inches over the crossbar.

The point does Avenue few favours, but they have to put the disappointment behind them ahead tomorrow’s huge game at Horsfall.