Ten man Nuneaton Town left Yorkshire with a point as they drew 1-1 with Bradford Park Avenue. Tom Elliott gave ‘Boro an early lead before Oli Johnson’s deflected effort ended the scoring in the 20th minute. Debutant Joel Dielna was sent off for Town in the 54th minute as he picked up his second yellow, leaving the visitors in for a long afternoon.
The games first opportunity fell to Billy Daniels as Referee, Leigh Doughty, denied Avenue’s penalty claims and Elliott set ‘Boro away on the counter, finding Daniels in an advanced position. The former Coventry City attacking midfielder played a neat one-two with Ashley Chambers before shooting narrowly over from the edge of the area.
Elliott gave Nuneaton the lead shortly afterwards, converting Daniel Nti‘s ball in from the left. Chambers had a chance to double the lead as he burst in to intercept a weak back-pass, nicking the ball off the ‘keeper’s toes but pushing it just a little too wide. The hosts had a couple of efforts on goal but failed to make Dean Lyness work in the ‘Boro goal. Avenue levelled with their first shot on target as Nuneaton failed to clear a corner, the second ball falling to Johnson in the centre of the penalty area. His goal-bound effort took a wicked deflection on it’s way through, beating Lyness to his left.
Lyness was busy again just a moment later, getting a strong hand to a through ball that Javan Vidal narrowly missed making contact with. The opening half an hour had been played in torrential rain and Doughty must have been close to calling the game off when the downpour stopped suddenly and the sun made an appearance. Nti, who caused problems all afternoon, had two efforts blocked after Elliott beat his man and picked him out in the penalty area.
Nuneaton had a penalty claim of their own denied in the 34th minute as Elliott appeared to be pushed in the back while competing for a header in the box. Dielna picked up his first caution in the 36th minute and was joined in the book by Captain Ryan Beswick. Brad Gascoigne was aggrieved not to be awarded a spot kick, claiming to be pushed as the first half came to a tetchy conclusion.
Adam Boyes came close to putting Avenue ahead in the 49th minute, Ryan Toulson curled in a wicked cross from the right which Boyes nodded just wide of the right upright. Brady Hickey almost notched his second of the season but saw his header hit the crossbar after great build-up play from Luke Trotman and Chambers. Boyes was involved again as he beat Niall Heaton and bore down on goal, only to be taken out just outside the box by Dielna. The forward was clean through and about to pull the trigger when the Frenchman went to ground, possibly saving a goal and taking one for the team. Doughty had little choice but to show Dielna a second yellow.
Nicky Clee took the resulting free kick and his curling left-footed shot looked to be heading into the top left corner until Lyness made a tremendous diving save. Tommy Wright was forced to make a change and brought on defensive re-enforcement in the shape of Luther Wildin, the former Notts County full back slotted in on the left as Beswick was withdrawn. Controversy reigned just before the hour mark as Doughty awarded a penalty to Bradford, adjudging Elliott to have handled in the area with Chambers picking up a booking for protesting the decision.
Perhaps justice was served as Nicky Wroe put the spot kick high over the bar, clearing the running track that circles the pitch. Hickey was again close with a header, this time guiding the ball just wide of the left post from a Daniels free kick. Avenue finally started to make their man advantage count in the final ten minutes, spreading the ball wide from side to side, stretching the ‘Boro defense. Mark Ross almost took advantage but his header came back off the crossbar.
Nti became the fourth Nuneaton player to enter the Referee’s notebook, picking up a booking for time-wasting as he knocked the ball away after being bundled over deep in his own half. It was a promising debut from the former Kidderminster Harriers forward but he may well rue missing a couple of good chances late as Nuneaton searched for a winner.
Avenue looked like they were going to pinch all three points in the final minute of stoppage time, Cameron Lyn found himself with time and space on the edge of Nuneaton’s box and lashed in a right-footed shot that had Lyness moving to his right. The ball however, took a wicked deflection off another Avenue player that had the ‘Boro ‘keeper scrambling back across his goal and he would have been relieved to see it drop just wide of the post. That was the last of the action as Nuneaton headed home with a hard-fought point that will buoy Wright and his team as they prepare for another away test, this time at high-flying Salford on Tuesday.
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