Ironside 22; Tunnicliffe 41; Truslove 79
- Harriers secure runners-up spot ahead of play-offs
- Hit-man Ironside nets again
- Truslove steps off the bench with a goal
- Ngwatala loss is a concern for hosts
HARRIERS go into the play-offs with a spring in their step after a 3-1 home win against a talented Bradford Park Avenue side at Aggborough on Saturday.
Harriers knew that a win would confirm them as runners-up for the division this season as well as giving them home advantage in any possible play-off final.
So if their wish was to start well, they managed it – just two minutes on the clock when some neat interplay saw Ty Williams through to shoot – Ed Hall doing well to block his attempt.
Half chances then followed for Zaine Francis-Angol and Ty Waite, before Sam Hornby was extended up at the other end by a fine header from Chris Sharp which he managed to turn away.
With 21 on the clock Harriers took the lead as top scorer Joe Inronside strode coolly on to a strong Williams delivery with a firm header that sailed past Hall and into his net.
Two minutes later, home reactions had to be sharp and they were as Bradford pushed forward on a quick counter; a cross sweeping across the face of goal where, if it hadn’t been for the timely intervention of Ryan Croasdale’s boot, Sinclair would have tapped home.
Avenue did a good job of stifling the home side’s forward momentum from there but oddly abandoned any attempt to defend when Harriers doubled their lead with four before the break – Tunnicliffe’s fine header from a great Knights delivery coming totally unchallenged.
With a little momentum behind Harriers it took a fine Hall save to stop two becoming three in the dying stages of the half – he denied Arthur Gnahoua when it looked like his angled, low drive was heading towards the bottom corner.
There was early action after the break as both ends caught sight of a chance, Jamie Spencer clipping the foot of Hornby’s post before Joe Ironside turned inside the area and drilled a shot low and hard that Hall was able to watch just wide.
Eleven minutes into the period, Avenue won their first corner after Hornby saved well from Danny Boshell, doing similar from a close-range effort from Johnson soon after after he’d been threaded through inside the area.
They would pull a goal back six post the hour, Nicky Wroe confidently dispatching from the spot after Johnson had been fouled in the area.
Playing good stuff throughout, Avenue continued to impress with a style that never looked present in the first half and they went within inches of an equaliser with 20 left to play when, with the ball at his feet, Spencer saw a shot blocked at close range on to the post.
Harriers had to soak up some serious pressure and, having done that, they expertly counter-attacked with a dozen minutes left to re-establish a two-goal lead; sub pairing Truslove and Sonupe combining well for the former to flick a head at a cross from the latter to find the back of the net.
Avenue rallied to try and pull another goal back at the game’s end, but Harriers stood firm to secure another three points.
Bradford Park Avenue
DESPITE the play-offs looming large next week, Joe Ironside insists nobody at Aggborough is looking past the visit of Bradford Park Avenue on Saturday. (3pm)
Anticipation is already high for the end-of-season play-offs, with hundreds of tickets already sold by the club at Friday lunchtime as fans prepare for next weekend’s second leg.
It has generated a thrilling buzz of anticipation around the club, but in the dressing room top scorer Ironside says it is business as usual.
And that means full focus is on this Saturday and the visit of Mark Bower’s Avenue side.
They’ve had a strong second half of the campaign and boast an impressive away record including eight league wins, more than a number of sides in the top ten including play-off chasing Chorley
So it’s no surprise that while Ironside wants the maximum result tomorrow to give key momentum ahead of those play-off places, he knows it won’t come easy.
“We expect nothing but three points so hopefully we can go out there and deliver it,” he said.
“You can’t look past any game so our main focus is Bradford Park Avenue on Saturday.
“Hopefully we can win that game and go into the play-offs… if we do put in the kind of performance we know we can do, we’ll get the three points and that goes hand in hand – we’d go into the play-offs full of momentum and confidence.
“The fans have been brilliance since I’ve been here and hopefully they can come out and be the 12th man to help us push over the line.”
On the injury front, Harriers are likely to be without Josh Ezewele as he continues to recover from the knock sustained against Boston United over Easter.
Winger Manny Sonupe, had to miss the last match, the 1-1 draw at Gainsborough Trinity, through injury and it is thought the man on loan from Northampton Town will be assessed again.
Kick-off at Aggborough Stadium on Saturday is at 3:00pm.
Tickets not currently available.
Joe Ironside chats ahead of Bradford Park Avenue
Jordan Tunnicliffe reflects on Bradford win
Boss Eustace proud after Bradford win
Liam Truslove's goal against Avenue at Aggborough