Thursday, April 23, 2009

Winner takes all in Avenue decider

12:30pm Thursday 23rd April 2009

By Ian Whiting

The scene could not have been better set by a Hollywood director as Bradford Park Avenue travel to Gigg Lane on Saturday to face FC United of Manchester in what could be a UniBond League play-off decider.

What was not in the script was Avenue’s defeat at relegated Leigh Genesis on Tuesday. However, that was Avenue’s game in hand and it would not have guaranteed their inclusion in the end-of-season Premier Division promotion drama had they won it.

Avenue and FC United are locked together on 71 points, in sixth and fifth spots respectively. Avenue are just outside the cut-off zone following their midweek loss but, with four points separating six clubs, only three can claim a play-off place and anything could happen.

Horsfall boss Lee Sinnott said: “Tuesday’s result was unexpected but there are always a few twists and turns towards the end of any season. I would sooner look at the glass half full rather than half empty, as it hasn’t made any difference to Saturday’s game.

“It makes the situation clearer and the players will be hurting after the midweek game, so what I’m looking for is a reaction to that. Both ourselves and FC United have to win, so you would expect the game to be cagey but expansive.

“There will be a big crowd, a Football League ground, a great surface and what should be a cracking atmosphere. These are the games that you want to be involved in.”

Avenue had midfielder Matty James and striker Danny Davidson back at Leigh after the pair missed last weekend’s 2-2 home draw through injury. Chris Hall and Amjad Iqbal could be in contention for recalls.

The final match of the regular season was always going to be a big game because of the fixture itself. With that in mind, Avenue slashed the price of their replica kit and have been urging their supporters to make the journey across the Pennines as the green and white army.

Sinnott said: “We might have Ammers (Iqbal) back and we have missed Chris up front but he may also recover in time. One player definitely ruled out is Andy Campbell. The second opinion we sought on his foot injury suggests a stress fracture.

“Tuesday was hugely frustrating. We didn’t play in the first half and didn’t have good delivery into the area. Also, you can’t give goals away, identical ones, at key times and expect to win, whoever you are playing. We have discussed that at length since because that is what needs to be addressed.”