Bradford Park Avenue won on the opening day for the first time since 2010 with a late victory at Tamworth.
Adam Boyes netted in the 97th minute after good work from Wayne Brooksby to create the chance, as Mark Bower’s men continued last season’s habit of scoring late winners.
Boyes had come close in the first half as he thumped the post with a fierce 20 yard drive, after goalkeeper Steven Drench made a world-class save to deny Darryl Knights, who was through on goal.
A ferocious thunderstorm was the first spectacle of the afternoon, as thunder, hail and lightning bore down on the Lamb Ground, where if it weren’t for the 3G pitch the game may not have gone ahead.
Avenue struggled to adjust to the surface and the first couple of chances fell the hosts’ way.
Centre back Regan Upton saw a long range effort fly just wide of the post, before Drench had to scramble to keep Connor Taylor’s effort out after Bradford gave the ball away on the edge of the box.
Tempers began to flare 15 minutes in when Tamworth thought they should have been awarded a penalty. The ball pinged around the area and struck the arm of Danny Boshell, but it would have been extremely harsh.
Just before the half hour, Drench showed why Avenue were so quick to snap him up in the summer with a stunning save.
Some excellent football from the home side saw Knights played in on goal, and with space nine yards from goal he shot low to Drench’s right, the Avenue stopper getting down sharply to keep out the effort.
Tamworth then did manage to find the back of the net, as Luke Jones slid home from a high ball forward, but he was correctly flagged offside.
With five minutes of the first half to play Avenue were on top, Oli Johnson and Boyes both just not catching shots right, and seeing them fall into the arms of home goalkeeper Shaun Rowley.
Then Boyes came closest in injury time, as he let fly from outside the box and saw his strike emphatically cannon off the woodwork.
After the break Avenue continued in their ascendency but failed to make anything of their pressure.
Tamworth had two further, but lesser, penalty claims as they shouted for a handball against Luca Havern before Taylor took a tumble in the area, but the referee waved away appeals as the ball had run through to Drench.
Then tempers boiled over on 70 minutes when home players reacted to an off the ball collision involving Nicky Boshell. Boshell and his brother Danny were booked after the fracas, as was Tamworth’s Aman Verma.
The Lambs then came close when full back Stephan Morley fired a low cross across the face of goal, but nobody could get a toe to direct it goalwards.
Substitute Jamie Spencer came on and gave Avenue an added energy, fashioning an opening as he got in on the left, but he chose to shoot from a tight angle when picking out a pass may have been a better option.
The game was heading towards a goalless draw, but Bradford were showing more attacking willing, as Nicky Boshell just couldn’t catch a shot right.
Into added time, and Adam Nowakowski saw a volley blocked and the impressive Brooksby just couldn’t get a shot away as it fell to him six yards out.
Tempers boiled over again moments later, as Ellis Deeney appeared to wrestle Spencer to the ground off the ball. Somehow between the referee and the linesman, who had a full view of the incident, Spencer was booked and the free kick went the way of the hosts.
However that all paled into insignificance when Avenue grabbed the game’s only goal with 97 minutes on the clock.
Brooksby showed great willing to win the ball and get in behind on the left, before finding Boyes. After a little ricochet, the Avenue debutant managed to get a shot away, which wrong-footed Rowley and flicked the post on its way over the line, sending the visiting fans into wild celebration.
The hosts did manage to force a corner in the dying embers of the game, but it sailed out for a goal kick and the referee blew for full time after 100 minutes of play.
Next up for Avenue is a home match against Southport on Monday night, with the winner taking outright top spot in the National League North, albeit just for one day.
Tamworth: Rowley, Burns, Morley, Deeney, Jones (c), Lane, Upton (Davies 77), Verma, Styche (Reid 83), Taylor (Walters 83), Knights
Subs not used: Ezewele, Curley
Bookings: Lane (53), Verma (70), Walters (85), Deeney (90+5)
Bradford Park Avenue: Drench, Vidal, Hill, Wroe (c), Havern, Knowles, Brooksby, D.Boshell (Nowakowski 89), Boyes, Johnson (Spencer 67), N.Boshell (Knight 81)
Subs not used: Toulson, Hall
Goal: Boyes (90+7)
Bookings: N.Boshell (70), D.Boshell (70), Spencer (90+5)
Referee: Thomas Kirk