Bradford Park Avenue 2 Nuneaton Town 3
Wednesday 27th April, 2016:
Boro gave their play-off hopes the lifeline they needed as they recorded one of the two wins they are targeting this week.
Town knew that anything less than three points away at Bradford Park Avenue would leave them needing more than a miracle on the final day of the Vanarama National League North this weekend.
As it stands they now need Boston just to draw at Stalybridge Celtic – and a Nuneaton win at home to Hednesford of course. Corby beating Harrogate would also be enough.
The talk in the days leading up to the Bradford game was belief – and lots of it – from the Nuneaton camp, with both manager Kevin Wilson and captain Shane Byrne saying the race for the play-offs was not run.
After a flat opening 15 minutes the game needed a spark and it nearly got one from an unlikely source in the 17th minute as defensive midfielder David Morgan sent a fierce drive goalwards, only being denied by the woodwork with Ryan Jones beaten all ends up.
The chance came out of nowhere but it acted like a catalyst for Nuneaton as minutes later they had taken the lead.
The goal came from Vamara Sanogo, his second in two games, as the front man latched on to a through ball from Joe Maguire and helped ease it past Jones.
Sanogo looked almost bemused walking back to the halfway line as there was a touch of fortune about the goal – there was nothing lucky about the second which came soon after, though.
It was scored by veteran front man Marlon Harewood as he turned quickly on the edge of the box and fired past Jones with real skill. It was a true striker's goal from the former Aston Villa forward.
Nuneaton seemed to be cruising at this stage and it seemed a case of if – and not when – the lead was stretched further.
It was to the credit of the home side that it was not as they battled back well to gain a footing in the game before the break.
They took that on after the restart and managed to halve the deficit with 64 minutes played.
The goal was a soft one for the Boro to concede, though, as Chib Chilaka was given far too much room in the box as he slotted home from close range to give Jordan Smith no chance.
Nuneaton seemed rocked by the Bradford goal and had to defend well to stop one becoming two.
Jordan Smith was needed to come and collect a couple of crosses, while Lathaniel Rowe-Turner and Joe Maguire were both solid.
It was crucial they were as Nuneaton built on their strength by hitting back and grabbing a third on the night – and reinstating the two goal lead.
It came via substitute Joe Ironside as he finished off a flowing move with a fantastic finish.
That looked like being game, set and match as Nuneaton had to hold out for less than ten minutes to ensure those points were safe. However, Chilaka grabbed his second of the game in the closing minutes to make it a tense end to the game.
BRADFORD PARK AVENUE: Jones, Scott, Gordon, Dean (Patterson 78), Qualter, Ainge, Colley (Marshall 90) Woodland, Chilaka, Mottley-Henry, King (Thorton 78).
Subs not used: Schofield, Wilkinson.
NUNEATON TOWN: J.Smith, Elliott, Warburton, Morgan, Maguire, Rowe-Turner, Scott, Byrne, Harewood (Duffy 53, Daniels 74), Whitehouse, Sanogo (Ironside 59).
Subs not used: Lane, Reid.