Bradford Park Avenue 1, Guiseley 3
Two fiercely-struck free-kicks from Guiseley skipper Andy Holdsworth ensured Bradford Park Avenue did not get revenge over their neighbours in the second of their Blue Square Bet North derbies on New Year's Day.
Avenue had been the better side, despite losing 1-0 at Nethermoor on Boxing Day, but the dominant Lions turned the tables on them at Horsfall Stadium.
With the visitors edging a game that was poised at 1-1 going into the last quarter, Holdsworth’s strikes ensured it was the Lions who got the victory.
Bradford boss John Deacey was aggrieved by a refereeing decision midway through the first half, and by his keeper at the two set-pieces.
He said: “The game swung on three key points – how their lad has stayed on the pitch I do not know. You usually get sent off for throwing a punch but he threw two and didn’t.
“I really thought our keeper could have done better with both free-kicks. Once again we have played a full part in the game and got nothing – that’s football.”
The incident that had Deacey fuming was in the 26th minute. A Guiseley attack petered out in the Avenue area and the referee had given a goal kick before the Lions’ Wayne Brooksby reacted.
A free-for-all ensued as other players became involved but the referee, his assistants and several players acting as peacemakers soon had things under control.
The result was yellow cards for Brooksby and Avenue’s on-loan defender Jordan Snodin.
Guiseley opened the scoring in the 35th minute when a clearance from Rhys Meynell found Josh Wilson just onside and he controlled the ball before curling a low shot into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.
Just before the break, visiting keeper Steve Drench raced wide out of his area to clear but his hack went straight to Paul Walker. He could not get a shot at the unguarded net but found Rob O’Brien, who forced a corner.
Jamie Price whipped in the flag-kick and three efforts were blocked before the ball rebounded to Danny Holland, who drilled it in off the inside of a post.
Holdsworth got his first chance from a disputed 74th-minute foul in the inside-left channel, and the Lions skipper was at least 30 yards from goal on an angle but his low drive found the target.
Four minutes later, from almost the same spot, he repeated the feat.
Lions boss Steve Kittrick said: “I think we deserved this one but we had to work hard. Avenue may have had five players suspended but proved what a good squad they have by testing us yet again.
“Our second-half performance was like their second-half performance at our place. We did a professional job and finished two goals in front.”
On the free-kick goals, Kittrick said: “John Lamb is a big lad and we know his strengths and we know his weaknesses.
"He had caught a few and pushed a couple of shots over the bar and Andy said if he got a chance on the left-hand side he would hit the ball into the ground. But it isn’t easy for John stepping into somebody’s else’s shoes.”
Kittrick added: “We spoke before the game about whether to play with the wind or against it in the first half. We decided to play without it in the first half and see how they perform and hopefully we can get a breakaway goal, and Josh’s strike was tremendous. He turned really well.”
Of their new signings, Kittrick said: “Sean (O’Reilly) has looked good in training and has come from a good level in America and we wanted to have a look at him in a match situation.
“Aaron Hardy is a quality player. He was at Avenue for about three weeks and they binned him, he went to Farsley but he is enjoying his football here and can also play in midfield as well as defence.”
On Saturday, second-placed Guiseley are bidding to end their hoodoo at lowly Bishop’s Stortford.