Bradford Park Avenue 0 County 2 ; Conference North





The County odyssey  continued at Cemetery  Road last night as a commanding performance , and goals from Jevons and Howard, saw them claim another 3 points with a well deserved, and hard fought 2-0 win against a  Bradford Park Avenue side that pressurised us at times but caved in late on in the face of an irresistible County charge.
It was another showing out of the top draw from the blues-totally- commanding in defence, with Lees and Cowen, unshakeable rocks, and resilient and effective going forward when they needed to be late on, although Bradford had a move or two to show us a time or two but lacked a finish, and ,as I say, they faded badly once the first County goal went in.
Bradford may be moved to point to a couple of saves by Dibble as an excuse,
 but that would be a considerable exercise in straw clutching in my view. He gave a typically Dibbleesque performance sweeping like a third centre back, and brought off a save or two as well, but the last time I looked keepers were part of teams and I am thoroughly fed up with seeing opposing keeper after opposing keeper play blinders against us...so.... my case rested......I move on....
The Flyer ready for take off!

Back to pre-match and the almost full Flyer arrived at the Park Avenue ground in time for a quick check of the sustenance provision on site. I made my way to the catering unit, which temptingly displayed a fulsome menu for all weary travellers to see just outside the door. Unfortunately ...... inside it was quite another matter with burgers....burgers and....err burgers on sale and nowt else bar coffee or tea! Oh how I pine for Workington and their magnificently spiced meat and potato pies, but they are currently languishing at the foot of the table and thus likely not to entertain us next season- there is just no justice in this world is there! With this and more on my mind, I went swiftly into Martyr Mode, eventually finding a seat in the fairly spacious main stand.
Kick off time arrived with County fielding a side with 2 changes...Oates for Dennis, and Moses for Platt, as a decent 300 or so from Stockport busied themselves making plenty of noise. This was great for the team and a massive relief after having my ears assaulted by the over loud `music’ on the PA( Come back Hednesford 70`s bore all is forgiven!).
“Enough of this frivolity!” I hear you bellow “ what about the match stupid!”
Quite so.....and, on a difficult but playable surface, County were quickly pushed back by Richard Marshall who surged forward down the left- he was policed firmly by Cowen and the danger was averted, but perhaps it was an early warning of things to come.
The second minute saw Duxbury cut a swathe through the right side of the home defence with man after man melting before his surging run. Jamie Price managed to stand firm settling for a County corner, but this finished up with Moses who then lashed in a power drive- it looked curtains for Bradford until keeper John Lamb kept the goal bound shot out with a spectacular diving save.
Pressure via Moke and Oates followed along with 2 further corners, but nothing more.
Bradford replied with a series of free kicks that pushed County onto the back foot , but Dibble`s save from on loan Chesterfield striker Jacob Hazell did for the first of these and good work from Cowen , Lees and  Churchman the other.
Library pic- Kyle Jacobs.

Jacobs and Moke were getting forward meanwhile, and together with Oates looked to be able to provide an avenue of progress down the right flank. So.....a Jacobs throw.....a run from Oates both offered pressure but not cutting edge, thus Park Avenue came back at County through Hazell who made good headway down the right. Dibble had some difficulty with the cross that pinged in from that flank moments later, but County survived OK, and the first 10 minutes had passed in no time with some fairly lively stuff being played.
It went on in similar vein as well, as Duxbury broke up a break by Hazell in the nick of time, but nobody in County blue and white could do anything next as Paul Walker found himself clear and one on one with Dibble. Walker was favourite but he fluffed his lines and Churchman was able to track back and ferry the ball to safety.
That was a definite escape , but one came at the other end next as Moke cut inside past his man only to blaze his shot disappointingly over the bar with Lamb on his line doing trussed turkey impressions!
Further probing runs from Moke and Jacobs followed, without success, and Bradford replied through Danny Glover who sent Walker surging clear with a neat pass. Walker looked in better nick this time, but fared no better as Duxbury did just enough to ensure that the final ball from Walker when it came lacked accuracy, enabling County to work it clear.
Bradford, so far, looked decent going forward, but their record showed a certain vulnerability at the back, so there was potential there if County could play to it! 
 
County press.
Meanwhile knowing that attack is the best means of defending our hosts did just that –Marshall again pushing through to the by-line down the left. His pass inside was an OK ball, but Nicky Boshell`s shot was poor ...easily blocked and cleared.
County responded through Duxbury and then Moke, but both found the way to goal blocked. Oates added his six penny worth with an awkwardly probing run that seemed to induce a hand to ball moment from Ryan Qualter, as the Stockport man turned to go inside him. The referee was unimpressed however and the game went on with Bradford breaking up field and Cowen dealing with the situation calmly and without fuss.
First half action.

That was good to see, and more pleasure looked about to unfold before us next as Oates freed Moke with a neat pass. Cutting inside at pace, Moke seemed on for glory, but with Lamb rooted to the spot again the winger lifted his shot over the angle of bar and post!
Library pic- Adi Moke.

If that was disappointing......more followed and quickly as an almighty foul up at the back by Bradford saw Oates alone with the ball staring pretty much at an open goal. It was an absolute sitter, and he should have buried it...instead Oates snatched hurriedly at it and sent the ball straight into Lamb`s hands!
Twice after this Bradford did their best to punish County`s  profligacy.....both times through Glover, but on both occasions he got no change from Lees who looks the complete package at the back just now!
Were County missing Dennis.....I thought so, but Oates was offering something of value none the less, an old fashioned capacity to keep running at opponents  causing stuff to happen.
Things did happen in the time remaining of the half, but without changing the score line, as Moke again lifted one over the bar, and Duxbury and Jacobs went on runs that offered excitement without a vital finish, still 0-0 at the break was OK from where I was sitting.           
The second half opened with the Yorkshire side pushing forward and a series of corners brought a punched clearance and a diving save from Dibble under pressure. Qualter then failed to head home from close in, and I and 300 or so others went AS when the snoozing near side liner allowed Chib Chilaka to continue advancing on goal despite being a couple of yards off side when receiving the ball. Dibble saved the day with a bit of a belter however, but it did not stop me being incandescent with rage! 
BPA raid.

On it went with Boshell lifting one over the bar ,and Grant Black winning his side a corner ,as 10 minutes or so of Bradford attacking waned, with Duxbury`s clearance off the line from another effort by Chilaka.
Throughout all this, County had looked unflustered and in control despite having to defend- it was all very sound and orderly which after the traumas of the recent past, was a considerable relief!
Dickinson came on for Moke just after the hour, which was marked by a decent save from Lamb that kept Oates out.
Cowen took a knock, which was worrying....doubly so as we had a long throw to defend and after treatment Cowen had to trudge to the touchline in time honoured ( ludicrous) fashion! I need not have worried however as Lees lumped the incoming missile out of play before Cowen re-joined the game with matters sorted.
The 72nd minute arrived with Dibble treating us to an impression of his dad- coming out quickly to sweep up as Chilaka darted clear. It was excellent to see!
A minute later Oates broke clear only to blaze over with Lamb all a tremble on the line. He maybe should have done better, but another minute on and he did as another swift injection of pace saw him clear once again. Price quickly made up ground to try and fend him off, but then opted to fling himself at the Stockport man sending him crashing down. In an instant the far side liner`s flag went across his chest-it was a penalty. With memories of Fagbola walking after a 10 yard rocket smashed into his arm a game or two ago, I imagined much the same would happen this time, but no.......despite  everything no card at all was produced...would that have been the case for one of ours?..... of course not, but it was ever thus!
No matter....up stepped Jevons and duly dispatched the kick into the net to give County a priceless 1-0 lead!
Brief celebrations over, County set about adding to their lead, but when Lamb spilled the ball helpfully at the feet of Howard, he went all `legs in treacle’ and his shot was easily cleared by the lone defender on the line. That was a bad miss, but the pressure was clearly on Bradford who responded by bringing     
a couple of subs on.
Confidence was rising in the County camp however, borne out as a Howard half volley whistled inches from the target. On it went with Howard and Dickinson in combination sending Churchman clear, but the ex Myerscough lad`s shot was poor and it stayed 1-0.
Clearly doors were beginning to open for County as another shot whizzed goal ward missing by inches.
Good though it was from County.....Dibble still had to be vigilant....and he was....his prompt actions, on 84 minutes stopping Clayton getting to a diagonal ball on the edge of the box. More shades of old Andy......and great to witness!
County piled forward now.....Churchman and Jevons prompting and urging.....probing....but Jacobs final ball with but 3 minutes of normal time left was just a tad too strong for Dickinson who looked decently set on the break.
It was all County now.....Dickinson and Jevons unlucky to see shots blocked.
Into added time we went.....3 agonising minutes of it, but County looked to be keeping the ball in the Bradford last third so any agony might be kept to a minimum.
The only thing left for Bradford was to send it long and high, but this approach was doomed to failure with Cowen able to apply head to ball without hassle. That said one hopeful bootfull  did get through to Chalika, but Duxbury blocked this run, and Dibble produced a fantastic save to deny Ross Gardner deep into added time.
Late twitch of the BPA corpse!

With all bar Lamb, and one other defender up the park however...and the ball played into space for Howard, chances were on for the blues in the games dying embers. Off the County man went, but as he turned inside his man I allowed myself to wonder whether this chance would go begging as earlier ones had. Shame on me.................as Howard looked up and slid a neat finish into the net to unleash a wall of noise from the main stand from the County following.
Not long after it was game over and time to celebrate...and boy did we as AL sent the team over to salute the supporters who had advanced beyond the running track to the touchline. Great moments....a really excellent win! Well done County!

County line up:

Dibble, Jacobs, Lees, Cowen, Duxbury, Moses, Churchman, Moke ( Dickinson 62)Jevons, Howard, Oates.

Subs not used: Lofthouse, O`Halloran, Charnock, Fagbola.

Bradford PA line up;

Lamb, Black, Price, Marshall, Qualter, Clayton, Hazell, Howarth, Glover, Boshell, Walker.

Attendance:  569


Ian Brown

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