10-man Gainsborough Trinity hold firm to draw 3-3 at Bradford Park Avenue and relegate the hosts

Gainsborough Trinity's 3-3 draw at Bradford Park Avenue saw the hosts relegated from the Pitching In Northern Premier League,writes Rob Hughes.
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Trinity had found themselves in their own relegation battle at the turn of the year, but the turnaround brought about by boss Russ Wilcox and his group of players saw 10-man Gainsborough bring up their 60th point of an ultimately successful campaign, as the foundations continue to be laid ahead of next season.

“There were lots of positives to take. We went 3-0 up and it could have been four or five,” said Wilcox.

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“It was a really big moment conceding on half-time which was disappointing as we have been superb defending corners this season.

Declan Howe celebrates a brace on Saturday - photo by @shotbybambooDeclan Howe celebrates a brace on Saturday - photo by @shotbybamboo
Declan Howe celebrates a brace on Saturday - photo by @shotbybamboo

“After the sending-off we knew we had to defend. Massive credit to them as a few months ago we would have got beaten today.

“To defend for 30 minutes with 10 men against a team that has to win to stay up, they deserve big credit for showing strong mentality.”

Wilcox's side have the opportunity to add to their points tally on the final day, though the haul, as it stands, is only nine less than last season's play-off securing total.

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Collected at a points per game average of 1.72 under the wily Wilcox compared to 1.64 last season, so Trinity really did just run out of games at the end of this campaign.

Champions, Radcliffe come to town, bringing to an end a rollercoaster of a season for the Holy Blues. And Trinity will be determined to extend the run to four without defeat.

Back to back four goal hauls, at home to Hyde and away at Matlock last midweek, followed by the 3-3 draw have Trinity on 11 goals in three games and Declan Howe now tops the NPL scoring charts with a phenomenal 26 goals in 33 games, two ahead of Workington's David Symington, with one to play.

Howe was again on the mark at Bradford with a quickfire brace.

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A third was added by Fraser Preston, putting Trinity three up approaching the break, but Ted Lavelle headed home to reduce the arrears in first half stoppage time.

Gainsborough skipper, Dylan Cogill saw red for a high challenge on Aiden Thiabelt, before Jake Daniels netted a double himself, with Dylan Wharton making a heroic block late on.