With Bradford Park Avenue in the thick of the battle for the Vanarama National League North play-offs, manager Mark Bower has been delighted to both extend the contract of one player and sign another.

Striker Oli Johnson has put pen to paper until the end of next season, while defender Rob Atkinson has been loaned from Guiseley until the end of this season. Bower knows of Johnson’s qualities from their days at Nethermoor, but the Wakefield-born forward has had a chequered career injury-wise, so Avenue were taking a slight risk.

However, former Norwich City and Oxford United striker Johnson has proved himself, and Bower said: “We said we would talk about a contract later on and we are happy to keep our part of the bargain.

“We hope that he will be an important part of the club for several years. Keeping your best players is just as important as making new signings.”

Atkinson, who like Johnson is 30, was a part-time player at Guiseley.

Bower said: “I am sure that if Guiseley had stayed part-time then Rob would have been in the team. But as a part-time player with full-time players it is more difficult for him to catch the manager’s eye.

“I expect more part-time players to become available, and we are delighted to sign him. Rob went straight into the team for us at centre half on Tuesday.”

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