Bradford Park Avenue manager Mark Bower praised his side’s grit and determination as they recorded a third win in four games at Alfreton on Saturday.

Oli Johnson scored the only goal of the game in the first half, before Avenue showed some excellent resolve to withstand long periods of Alfreton pressure.

Goalkeeper Jon Worsnop saved a Craig Westcarr penalty in the 73rd minute, but Bower thought apart from that, his side created the most noteworthy openings of the afternoon.

“They put a lot of pressure on us but I think if you look at the second half, we had the clear cut chances,” the Avenue boss said.

“They had a few balls bobbling around the box and we got a few blocks in but overall I think the best chances were ours.

“But if nothing fell for them, I think we’ve certainly earned our luck over the last couple of weeks with things that have gone against us.

“And then today, the lads certainly worked hard enough to earn a little bit of fortune, and all in all we were deserving of the win because of how hard we worked.

“You always knew that we were going to come under pressure in the second half when we were 1-0 up, and they’re coming down the slope with the wind behind them, and at times we found it difficult to get out.

“There were a couple of counter attacks that we could have made better use of to make the win easier for ourselves, but the lads defended magnificently.

“Then from the only mistake we really made in giving the penalty away, Spider (Worsnop) pulls off a good save then Hilly (Matt Hill) follows up really well to clear.

“It wasn’t a classic performance, but a really good gritty, determined one that you’ve got to do to be successful in this league.

“And ultimately, success for us now is staying up, and we’ve given ourselves a fantastic opportunity now to finish the job off.”

Efforts from James Knowles and Wayne Brooksby forced good saves from Fabian Spiess in the first half, before Johnson and Gavin Rothery shot wide from good opportunities as Avenue should really have put the game to bed.

“The only criticism is not getting a second goal,” Bower said.”Certainly OJ (Johnson) could have had another one, Gav Rothery has worked himself a good opening too.

“We had the opportunities to make it a little bit more comfortable, a classic away performance I guess.

“If you’d have offered us 1-0 before the game, with the results below us going our way, then we’d definitely have taken it.

“But we’re not safe yet. We’ve got a hard run-in and some tough games to come, and in this league you see crazy results every week.

“And certainly at any point we won’t be dropping our standards, we won’t be making any changes, we’ve got a job to finish off.

“And we don’t just want to scrape clear, we want to do it with a bit of style and do it comfortably.

“We could be there or thereabouts in terms of being mathematically safe if we get a win next week, so that’s the next target.”

Johnson’s goal however made it five in eight for him, and the manager said he bounced back perfectly from disappointment in midweek.

“He wasn’t particularly happy about not playing at Darlington on Wednesday night,” Bower said.

“But we had Saturday’s game in mind, with two games quite close together and what we would need him to do.

“Emile Sinclair was ill as well on Saturday which didn’t help, but Oli has put in a great shift up front.

“He’s got in a couple of times as well later on in the game, he’s disappointed he’s not got a goal or two more.

“But the goal that he got, it looked easy but he’s shown great composure to take it round the keeper and then settle it down on a really dry and bobbly surface.

“He’s shown his quality there and shown what a big asset he is to our team.”

Next up for Bradford is a home match against old adversaries FC United of Manchester, and Bower says his side can take heart from the side’s earlier meeting this season, which Avenue won 3-2.

“Of course it’s a good chance to get three points, especially given they are a team that we’ve already beaten,” the Avenue manager said.

“Like Alfreton on Saturday, they were a team we’d already beaten and we went down there with a lot of confidence.

“Everyone said the last six games look tough, yet three of those six games are against teams we have already beaten this season.

“So we can have confidence in taking on any team that we’ve got left to play.

“FC United have been on a good run recently, we’ve seen them play a few weeks ago and we know they’ve got some strengths but we also know areas we can exploit.

“It will be another tough game, but if the lads show the application that they’ve shown on Saturday and on Wednesday even though the result didn’t go for us.

“To get back going after Wednesday’s big effort was excellent from the lads, and we need that kind of spirit and workrate, coupled with the quality we’ve shown to score goals, when we play FC United.”


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