Match Report | Bradford (Park Avenue) 1-3 Blyth Spartans | Emirates FA Cup Second Qualifying Round Replay | 2023/24

Spartans recorded a 3-1 victory to conclude extra time on Monday evening at the Horsfall Stadium as goals from Will McGowan, JJ Hooper and Cedric Main cancelled out Brad Dockerty’s deadlock-breaking strike.

A torrential downpour struck the Horsfall Stadium all evening making for a slick artificial playing surface which Graham Fenton’s side aimed to take advantage of in the opening exchanges. 

Controlling possession and building up through the thirds to begin the replay on the front foot, the ball was worked out to Michael Liddle on the left flank on five minutes where he whipped in an enticing cross, however, a resolute Park Avenue backline snuffed out the danger before a corner was conceded. 

From the resulting set-piece, Joe Oliver’s cross was met by the rising Jack Bodenham whose header was deflected inches over the crossbar. 

It would be the hosts to break the deadlock, though, as on 10 minutes and somewhat against the run of play, Brad Dockerty created an opening from 25-yards to hit a straight, powerful effort into the top corner beyond the outstretched Alex Mitchell.

Spartans struck back with an instant response via intricate play, however, as the ball was worked into Cedric Main who combined with Will McGowan seamlessly for the latter to bury a strike past George Sykes-Kenworthy. 

Following a frantic start, both sides tried to take a grasp on proceedings, with Spartans maintaining the majority of the ball until the next clear-cut chance was created just before the half-hour mark. 

JJ Hooper, with his back to goal, teed up McGowan to stride onto an effort from the edge of the box, but Sykes-Kenworthy was failed to be tested in that instance as his starting positioning made for a comfortable hold. 

On 36 minutes, Bodenham drove forward and delivered a chipped cross towards the far post for where McGowan had peeled off the back of Gianluca Havern to connect with a first-time volley; his effort wasn’t taken cleanly, though, and Sykes-Kenworthy could gather with ease. 

Elliot Forbes played in a sumptuous chip over the defensive line for the onrushing Liddle coming in off the left flank as half-time edged close, but his effort was blazed off target. 

Half-time: Bradford (Park Avenue) 1-1 Blyth Spartans

Momentum for Park Avenue and Spartans did not hit the ground running in the second period, but it was the hosts who carved out the first opening just before the hour mark. Will Longbottom steered a strike under Finn Cousin-Dawson from 20-yards on target which forced Mitchell into a smart, low stop, as the ball fizzed off the surface. 

McGowan flashed an attempt narrowly wide from an acute angle having combined with Main in the penalty area on 61 minutes, before Liddle was called into a pivotal defensive duty to slide and block Harry Colville’s strike to prevent Mitchell from scrambling across his goal line. 

With 15 minutes left on the clock, Longbottom earned a free-kick in a promising position 25-yards out from goal, but he failed to capitalise on the situation as stepped up and curled an effort off target.

Five minutes later, Park Avenue substitute Jordan Preston was found in the penalty area to direct a header destined for the back of the net, but Mitchell expertly adjusted to claw the ball away to safety with little to no reaction time. 

In the next attacking phase which jolted in Spartans’ favour, Main utilised his strength and pace to keep the ball in play on the left byline to then square a pass across goal for Hooper who hit a first-time strike straight at Sykes-Kenworthy which ultimately was the final attempt of the regulated 90 minutes before extra time beckoned. 

Full-time: Bradford (Park Avenue) 1-1 Blyth Spartans

Substitute Harry Arnsion was on hand to sprint back to make a pivotal interception cutting out a path for Preston to advance one-on-one with Mitchell on 98 minutes before a low strike from 20-yards out by Main called Sykes-Kenworthy into action once more low down to his right-hand side. 

Extra time half-time: Bradford (Park Avenue) 1-1 Blyth Spartans

Charlie Aitken, who had replaced Joe Oliver in the second half, was denied by a last-ditch challenge at the far post to be able to convert a teasing McGowan cross into the back of the net before Forbes was shut out by a point-blank stop from Sykes-Kenworthy as he latched a header on target from McGowan’s corner. 

With 10 minutes left of the final period of playing time, Main played a delightful cross for Hooper to glance a header against the post and nestle in the back of the net to gain the advantage. 

Matters were then settled in the 118th minute as Main added a goal to his two assists on the evening as he pounced on a mix-up at the back to slam an effort into an unguarded net to set up a third qualifying round tie at Croft Park against Worksop Town.

Extra time full-time: Bradford (Park Avenue) 1-1 Blyth Spartans

Bradford (Park Avenue) | George Sykes-Kenworthy, Lucas Odunston, Zak Kersey, Mitch Lund, Gianluca Havern, Will Lancaster, Harry Colville, Lewis Hey, Brad Dockerty, Chinedu Osadebe (Jordan Preston, 73′), Will Longbottom (Will Calligan, 91′).

Subs not used | Danny King and Joel Auty.

Goals | Brad Dockerty 10′

Blyth Spartans | Alex Mitchell, Joe Oliver (Charlie Aitken, 82′), Finn Cousin-Dawson, Jack Bodenham, Harrison Clark, Michael Liddle, Elliot Forbes, Will McGowan, JJ O’Donnell (Harry Arnison, 70′), Cedric Main, JJ Hooper (Jon Shaw, 113′).

Subs not used | Nicky Deverdics, Michael Hogan and Oscar Hartley.

Goals | Will McGowan 12′, JJ Hooper 110′ and Cedric Main 118′

Attendance | 322

Referee | Oliver Noonan

Graham Fenton’s post-match reaction following the 3-1 victory over Bradford (Park Avenue)

Spartans next face off against Alfreton Town in National League North action on Saturday, 23rd September at Croft Park, before welcoming Worksop Town in third qualifying round of the Emirates FA Cup the following weekend.

Posted by BSAFC Media Team