Curzon Ashton v Bradford Park Avenue - Confidence enabling Bower’s men to continue punching above their weight

Bradford Park Avenue boss Mark Bower.  Picture:  Bruce Rollinson
Bradford Park Avenue boss Mark Bower. Picture: Bruce Rollinson
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BRADFORD PARK AVENUE are flying high at the top of the National League North, but manager Mark Bower says his side will have to keep punching above their weight to stay there.

Bradford Park Avenue travel to Curzon Ashton in the National League North on Saturday, and manager Mark Bower is hopeful that his team can keep upsetting the odds at the top of the table.

Avenue went level on points with leaders Chorley following their 4-1 thrashing of ten-man York City last weekend, and they have won three of their last four in the league.

Despite this, Bower is keen to keep his players’ feet on the ground, and he admits that staying in the promotion mix will be a difficult ask.

“I think it will be really tough,” he said. “We’re a small club in this league, there are much bigger clubs and more heavily backed clubs than us so we are punching well above our weight being where we are at this moment in time.

“But we’ve got some good players who are playing with confidence and we believe every time we step out on the pitch that we can win games.

We’re a small club in this league, there are much bigger clubs and more heavily backed clubs than us so we are punching well above our weight being where we are at this moment in time.

Bradford Park Avenue manager, Mark Bower

“If we can continue to do that then there’s no reason why we can’t but it is going to be really, really tough for a team like us to stay where we are at the minute.”

Avenue had been one of a number of teams who looked to be fighting for second place behind Chorley, at one point the runaway league leaders.

But a run of two draws and three successive defeats have seen the gap at the top closed to goal difference alone - though they do still have a game in hand over Avenue.

Bower said: “That’s football, isn’t it? It’s such a tight league and everyone’s capable of beating everyone else on their day.

“Chorley had a great run at one point but as can often happen in football, injuries, a lack of confidence, or a drop in form can make a difference.

“So it’s important during a good spell that you try and get as many points on the board as you can because you will have those spells where things go against you.

“They are going to come at some point of the season so if you’ve backed it up with some points in the bag earlier on, that certainly helps you on your way.”

Travelling to Greater Manchester with midfielder Chris Dawson and defender Danny Lowe hoping to return from hamstring niggles, Avenue are favourites against a Curzon side that is winless in three games.

Beaten at home by Stockport County last time out, John Flanagan’s side have struggled with consistency with a record of five wins, five draws, and six defeats in the league this season.

But with Spennymoor Town, Kidderminster Harriers and Chester all just a point behind Avenue in second, Bower is keen to make sure his side stay focused on their own games rather than worrying about those going on elsewhere.

“I don’t think we’re looking at what Chorley are doing or what anybody else is doing,” he said.

“We’ve approached the season with quite a few new players in in the summer and they’ve gelled together quite nicely.

“We’re not really interested in what anyone else is doing at this moment in time, just concentrating on our own performances and because the performances have been good, on the whole the results have followed suit.

“We’ve had a few games where we’ve probably not got what we deserved, but we’ve kept saying to the lads, if you keep the performance levels up then we’ll win more than we lose.

“That’s certainly been the case and we want to try and make that continue.”

Avenue’s good form has helped create an incredibly positive atmosphere around the Horsfall Stadium, and that was compounded on Tuesday as young forward Lewis Knight put pen to paper on a new contract.

A Leeds United academy graduate, the pacey 20-year-old only joined Avenue this summer but his fine form out wide in recent weeks meant Bower was keen to tie him down to a longer deal.

“I’m really happy to have signed a new contract,” Knight said.

“The past few weeks have been incredible, not only for myself but for the team.

“We now have to continue this fine form and make sure that we’re up near the top at the end of the season.”