Boston United masters of own destiny after fightback to beat Bradford Park Avenue

Boston United 2 Bradford Park Avenue 1
Shane Byrne netted the winner. Photo: Oliver AtkinShane Byrne netted the winner. Photo: Oliver Atkin
Shane Byrne netted the winner. Photo: Oliver Atkin

Boston United's play-off hopes remain firmly in their own hands after the Pilgrims fought back to beat Bradford Park Avenue.

James Hanson and Shane Byrne grabbed the vital goals to cancel out Brad Dockerty's first-half penalty, United remaining seventh in the National League North as they ended the visitors' run of 423 minutes without conceding.

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Pilgrims skipper Luke Shiels, back from suspension, had Bank Holiday traffic to thank for his return to the starting XI as Scott Duxbury found himself caught up in traffic.

Successfully navigating the busy A1, Park Avenue arrived at the Jakemans Community Stadium 15th in the table, a position that gave little indication of their recent form.

Bradford, with former Pilgrims keeper George Sykes-Kenworthy between the posts, pulled up unbeaten in five, having kept clean sheets in their past four games against Chorley, Spennymoor Town, Kidderminster Harriers and Gateshead.

As happened with their last home game against Blyth Spartans, the Pilgrims began on the offensive, Brad Abbot forcing one strike wide and rattling the bar with a second.

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But as also happened against Blyth, the visitors took the lead.

The warning signs were there as Jake Wright snr's poor touch set Lewis Knight free on goal, but Marcus Dewhurst was out well to save blushes.

But there was little the keeper could do as Dockerty opened the scoring in the 25th minute from the penalty spot, drilling down the middle after being tripped by Joe Leesley.

Back came Boston, Sykes-Kenworthy getting enough behind Danny Elliott's long ranger and touching Leesley's drive wide after Jake Wright jnr's effort was blocked.

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The Bradford keeper then had to be alert to smother at the second attempt after almost fumbling Brad Nicholson's header into his own net.

The second half began with Nicholson's looping header landing on the roof of the Park Avenue net before a few too many desperate tumbles in the box failed to impress referee Jamie O'Connor.

A few boos rang out as Wright jnr was replaced by Hanson, United's biggest threat perhaps needing a rest after just his second game back from a long-term hamstring injury.

But the boos turned to cheers four minutes later as the substitute met Leesley's corner to head the hosts level - the first goals Bradford had conceded in 423 minutes.

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Their second came just nine later as Byrne collected Elliott's cutback just inside the Bradford box, took a touch and sent a beautifully composed finish into the roof of the net.

It could have been more as Toim Platt headed vwide and an Elliott curler went the same way.

UNITED: Dewhurst, Platt, Shiels, Wright jnr (Hanson 57), Elliott, Wright snr, Abbott, Leesley, Byrne, Seriki, Nicholson; Subs (not used): Duxbury, 7 Thanoj, Rollins, Preston.

BPA: Sykes-Kenworthy, Ross, Ragan, Lund, Havern (Mottley-Henry 74), Fielding, Knight, Odunston, Dockerty (Nwakowski 65), Hopper, Clee (Johnson 65); Subs (not used): Toulson, Mottley-Henry, Hinds.

REF: Jamie O'Connor.

ATT: 1,800 (57).