11:39am Sunday 26th April 2009
By Ian Whiting
FC United 1 Avenue 1
A frustrating draw in front of 3,719 spectators at Gigg Lane left two of the clubs tipped for the play-offs out of the frame for the end of season extras.
The only possible result that meant both would miss out was the stalemate that ensued, meaning they finish the season in seventh (Avenue) and sixth places in the UniBond League Premier Division – just two points behind Kendal Town, who leapfrogged the pair with a 3-2 home win over Buxton.
The supporters of FC United and Avenue were not short-changed though, as the teams battled it out.
The majority of the huge crowd were in raptures in the eighth minute when the home side opened the scoring through Adam Tong.
An immensely tense finale was set up when Mark Bett equalised five minutes before the end.
Bradford boss Lee Sinnott said: “It is so very frustrating for everyone involved but you could see it coming, two very evenly-matched sides cancelling each other out.
“At the end, in added time especially, it was gung ho from both sides.
“There was a great atmosphere at the ground with almost 4,000 there and it was a superb advert for UniBond football.
“Both teams will still be in it next year so the League must be pleased.”
Sinnot added: “I thought we were the more forceful of the two teams. I thought we created the better chances and our keeper Jon Worsnop had less to do than his opposite number.”
It will be a bitter pill to swallow but Sinnott went through a similar scenario when he was manager of Farsley Celtic and suffered disappointment later while in charge at Port Vale.
In his short spell as Avenue boss he has made a good start but during that time has faced all the predictable setbacks.
Avenue went into this crucial last game with some players sidelined and others walking wounded.
“We had Amjad Iqbal and Chris Hall back and while neither was one hundred per cent fit, I thought they put a full shift in.
“Promotion was always going to be in the balance because we have only had half a season to put the squad together and focus our aims.
“We tried to beat the odds but our efforts weren’t enough as it turned out. It was a bridge too far too soon but I cannot fault the squad for that, just the timescale that we were working within.”