Tigers play-off hopes go down the wrong Avenue
THE team who put the final nail in Worksop Town’s play-off hopes last season may just have done the same to Simon Clark’s men on Saturday.
Bradford Park Avenue inflicted a fourth straight defeat on Tigers, who are yet to taste victory in 2012, but the manner of the 2-0 defeat was perhaps the most disappointing aspect for the home supporters.
No one has demanded a charge at the play-offs, certainly none of the regulars at Sandy Lane expected it after such a poor start to the current campaign.
However they have come to expect their side to put together phases of attractive, attacking football.
And save a short spell of pressure in the first half, Worksop were unable to perform to their ability on an afternoon dominated by their visitors.
Tigers got off to a poor start, coming under early pressure and conceding in the 10th minute.
Avenue’s Michael Duckworth teased Luke Shiels on the left flank and his dangerous in-swinging cross was met by Matty James who was allowed to ghost in and nod past Jon Worsnop.
The hosts almost hit back straight away, Owain Warlow putting a decent ball into the box and Jamie Jackson flicking a header towards the far corner, but visiting keeper John Lamb made an outstanding save at full stretch, palming the ball round the post.
An Ashley Burbeary shot from the edge of the box led to a loud penalty appeal from Worksop, but the referee was unmoved.
The yellow card came out for the first time on 25 minutes when James Knowles went in very late on Massiah McDonald, and from the resulting free-kick Luke Shiels headed home only for the whistle to go for a foul.
Tigers failed to mount anything in the way of a cohesive attack for the next quarter of an hour, debutant Lee Beeson in particular guilty of wayward passing and overhit through balls.
At the other end Avenue won a number of corners and threatened down the left, Michael Jacklin coming under close scrutiny.
It should have been 1-1 as the half entered the final five minutes, Jackson scampering clear and running in on Lamb who saved the striker’s tame shot, and watched in relief as the rebound was cleared off the line by Rob O’Brien.
Knowles began to walk a tightrope after taking Jackson down outside the box, the referee issuing a final warning instead of the red card that many expected.
Shiels then saw a header beaten out by Lamb, and Burbeary thumped the crossbar with a fine effort, Worksop ending the half on top.
Before the whistle could go for the break the yellow card was flashed twice more, Warlow getting a caution for a cynical foul on Ross Daley, and the Bradford man retaliated to earn a card.
And tempers remained high, Avenue furious that a Knowles goal was disallowed for offside and the two managers came together over something said to the referee as the teams trooped off for half-time.
Both sides made changes at the break, Warlow coming off and Sharry taking his place in the Worksop side, goalscorer James withdrawn and Jordan Deacy making an entrance for Avenue.
It was a bright enough start to the second half by Tigers, Burbeary winning a free-kick and sending it into the box for Jackson who teed up Beeson and the new boy’s fierce shot was blocked.
The chance was more of a false dawn, than a signal that an equaliser was coming.
Shiels went into the book for a lunge as he tried to retrieve the ball, but Bradford failed to take advantage of the free-kick deep in Worksop’s half.
Sharry tried his luck from 25 yards and stung the hands of Lamb, and the offside flag frustrated Jackson who looked to outpace the Avenue back line.
McDonald lost his cool momentarily after taking a shove in the chest from Marshall and picked up a yellow for going in late on substitute Nicky Matthews.
Beeson’s disappointing debut came to an end with 25 minutes remaining, Craig King coming on for a place on the right.
Worsnop kept his side in the game with an acrobatic save from Duckworth’s top-corner bound shot, and then Knowles put the ball wide from just six yards.
Burbeary made way for another new man, Karl Cunningham - signed on loan 24 hours prior to the game from Lincoln City - on 71 minutes.
Four minutes later a moment of quality, and slack defending, doubled Avenue’s advantage.
Matthews was allowed to receive the ball just inside the box, he then turned to face Luke Shiels and had space to curl the ball past the defender, Worsnop and into the net.
There was no way back for Clark’s men, although a King free-kick from the right was headed past the post by James Cotterill.
Avenue almost made it 3-0 when Sharry was too casual in possession and put Marshall through on Worsnop, Shiels having to get back to rescue the situation.
Young headed off his line from Nicky Boshell’s half volley as Worksop laboured both in and out of possession with very little for the home supporters to cheer before the full-time whistle.
Worksop: Wornsop 7, Jacklin 5, Wood 6, Young 6, Shiels 5, COTTERILL 7, Beeson 5 (King 65), Burbeary 5 (Cunningham 71), McDonald 5, Jackson 5, Warlow 5 (Sharry 45 5). Not used: Roberts, Ziccardi.
Bradford Park Avenue: Lamb, O’Brien, Boshell, Daley, Knowles, Clayton, Marshall (Bernard 89), Hotte, Greaves (Matthews 63), James (Deacy 45), Duckworth. Not used: Riley, Drury.
Referee: M. D’Aguilar. Assistants: R. Price, J. Kerrigan.
Goalscorers: James 10, Matthews 75.
Yellows: Warlow 45+1, Shiels 53, McDonald 65; Knowles 25, Daley 45+1.