FC Halifax Town
slipped to their second defeat in fifteen games as Richard Marshall returned to sting the Shaymen by scoring the only goal in a feisty 1-0 affair.
In a game which will be remembered for its aggressive manner - which saw two red-cards and a number of yellows - Marshall picked the ball up from range before curling it into the top corner.
Beforehand, Town were reduced to ten men early in the first-half when Ryan Toulson
clashed with Martin Drury off-the-ball.
And after picking up a yellow card for an off-the-ball altercation with McManus, Aiden Savory hunted for revenge and saw red for a late challenge.
With the sides evened, Town pressed for a late equaliser and saw John Lamb pull off a number of saves.
First Adriano Moke struck the bar, before Dan Gardner
and Matt Pearson forced the keeper to come to Bradford’s rescue and secure all three points.
Neil Aspin made four changes to the side that beat Workington
two days previously, as he gifted new signing James Knowles a start against his former club.
Another new addition - Danny Glover - was granted a starting place, whilst Lee Gregory
and Sean Williams also returned.
After a nervy start, it was Town who had the first chance when Glover turned well to find Williams who struck his shot off balance.
The scrambled surface wasn’t permitting for some early fluent play and thus chances were a rarity during the early encounters.
But Gregory was able to test John Lamb for the first time with a snapshot from the edge of the box that struggled to threaten the scoreline.
Park Avenue started strongly, but the chances were seemingly all Town’s as Toulson controlled and volleyed wide of the mark.
The game settled into a hard-fought affair midway through the first-half as frustrations over the lack of chances started to grow.
Toulson pinpointed these frustrations by seeing red with an off-the-ball incident with left-back Drury that saw the referee and linesman come together and agree on the sending off.
Moments later, Park Avenue looked to take the advantage with Drury being withdrawn for former Shay Striker Danny Holland.
And it was Holland who had the ball in the net first, only for the flag to be raised against him to see it disallowed for a foul on Danny Lowe
Tensions continued to flare and next it was McManus’ and Aiden Savory’s turn to have an off-the-ball incident as they scrapped off the ball.
The resulting free-kick was blocked by the wall, but the follow-up curling strike from Duckworth nearly found the top corner.
Halifax looked rocked by the red card as Park Avenue hurried the ball. Titchiner was caught waiting in possession and this allowed Alex Davidson to fire an effort just wide.
The feisty affair continued into first-half stoppage time as Williams flew in late on Duckworth, but the referee deemed it a yellow.
The second-half started in an equally aggressive manner with both sides looking to press an advantage.
Jordan Deacey was first to test Glennon’s alertness, but his effort was dragged harmlessly wide.
The referee was forced into a fourth booking of the game when Marshall left a leg in on McManus to send the full-back tumbling.
Avenue couldn’t capitalise on their best chance of the game when they worked the ball neatly in the box, only for Holland to drag his first-time effort wide.
Aspin added Dan Gardner
midway through the second-half and from the Town looked dangerous on the counter.
But from an attack, they were then caught themselves and Davidson cut in from the left to stretch Glennon with an effort that skipped narrowly wide.
Avenue had the scent of blood in their nostrils and started to pile men forwards in the hunt for the lead.
Nathan Hotte was the first to really force a save as he curled an ambitious 25-yard effort that Glennon tipped expertly away from danger.
But it wasn’t long until they found the breakthrough with a bit of magic from a former Shaymen.
Marshall - Avenue’s top scorer - picked the ball up in space and bent a delightful effort from range past a stationary Glennon into the far corner.
A moment of stupidity followed from Savory as he picked up a second yellow for a lunging challenge on McManus.
This took the momentum out of Bradford and Halifax nearly drew level when Williams let fly from 25-yards to see Lamb tip it over in fortuitous circumstances.
Park Avenue would have made it two late in the second-half hadn’t it been for excellent defending from Knowles.
Davidson was set free behind the Town defense, and after rounding the keeper, he looked on in despair as Knowles got a vital touch on his impending goal-scoring effort.
Halifax thought they had drew level when St Juste’s corner rolled narrowly past the far post.
In unforeseen circumstances, substitute Moke nearly drew Town level when his cross deflected goal-bound before skimming off the post.
Gardner nearly flicked Town level from the next corner, but Lamb instinctively palmed it over the bar.
And finally Pearson forced Lamb into another stop as he let fly from outside the area, but the keeper was equal to it.