Bradford (Park Avenue) booked their place in the FA Cup with Budweiser Fourth Qualifying Round draw, with a comfortable victory against Carlton Town at the Bill Stokeld Stadium.
The Avenue lined up in an unfamiliar purple and black alternative kit, but, started the game with their typical philosophy of passing football. The first opportunity for Bradford fell to playmaker Alex Davidson, however, he scooped his effort over the bar from 12 yards.
John Deacey’s men were dominating the game, especially down the left wing, as Paul Walker continued to cause plenty of problems for the Millers’ defence. Despite his several crosses, Bradford failed to hit the net from Tom Greaves’ turn and shot and Danny Holland’s header respectively.
Nevertheless, the home side caught the Avenue on the counter attack, and a through ball from former Bradford player Ruben Wiggins-Thomas found Ian Brown, but, his curled shot was pushed away from Tim Deasy.
With nearly half an hour played, Bradford deservedly took the lead. The Avenue’s left wing combination of Martin Drury and Paul Walker were proving a constant threat, and after a neat one-two, Walker cut inside, and fired a low right footed shot from 16 yards into the bottom corner.
Five minutes later, Carlton Town were given a chance to get back into the game. From a corner, Tim Deasy threw Ruben Wiggins-Thomas to the floor, giving the referee no choice, but, to award a penalty. From the penalty spot, the Millers’ captain Matthew Varley struck a powerful shot down the middle of the goal.
However, two minutes after the equaliser, the visitors regained their lead. Bradford’s right back Michael Duckworth produced a lovely piece of skill to escape three defenders and pass to Davidson. The Avenue’s number seven played a first time ball into the feet of Tom Greaves, allowing the striker to turn and strike a powerful effort towards goal, which cannoned off the crossbar and bounce over the line.
Shortly after, the Blue Square Bet North outfit came close to extending their lead. Once again, Duckworth was the architect with a perfect cross into the box, but, Danny Holland’s header grazed the post.
Before half time, the away side were looking for a crucial third goal, but were denied by the resilient Carlton Town defence. Despite scoring earlier, Tom Greaves saw an effort saved by Martin Kearney. Furthermore, Alex Davidson’s diverted shot from Richard Marshall’s drive hit the crossbar, and from the rebound, Tom Greaves’ header was cleared off the line.
HALF TIME: CARLTON TOWN 1-2 BRADFORD (PARK AVENUE)
After the break, Bradford (Park Avenue) failed to carry on from their first half performance. Despite creating chances, the visitors were not looking as dangerous, with efforts from Alex Davidson and Paul Walker failing to trouble the Millers’ goalkeeper.
However, from an Avenue corner, Danny Holland’s looping header was well cleared by the Carlton Town defence, and from the resulting clearance, Alex Davidson’s header from 18 yards was diverted away from the top corner by Martin Kearney.
Finally, Bradford got the goal that secured their place in Monday’s draw. The Avenue midfielder Richard Marshall found space in the middle of the park, and drilled a right footed shot from 20 yards past Kearney into the bottom corner.
For the final ten minutes, the home side were taking a direct route to goal, but, firm defending from Hotte and Knowles foiled the Millers’ attack. Bradford were looking more comfortable in possession, and were unfortunate not to score a fourth. A well worked move from Bradford, ended with Tom Greaves’ flick into the path of substitute Rob O’Brien, who fired a shot wide from 16 yards.
FULL TIME: CARLTON TOWN 1-3 BRADFORD (PARK AVENUE)
Carlton Town: Kearney, Asher (MacVicar 78), Fletcher, Whitehurst, Varley, Hall. Thornton, Naylor (Smithson 66), Brown, Wiggins-Thomas, Kimberley (Henry 75).
Subs not used: Gordon, Millns, Burleigh.
Booking: Fletcher, Wiggins-Thomas, Hall
Scorer: Varley pen (32)
Bradford (Park Avenue): Deasy, Duckworth, Drury, Marshall, Knowles, Hotte, Davidson (James 79), Greaves, Holland, Deacey (O’Brien 41), Walker (Radcliffe 79).
Subs not used: Hume, Needham, Higginson.
Scorers: Walker (27), Greaves (34), Marshall (76)