Curzon faced a big test when 2nd placed Bradford Park Avenue were the visitors to the Tameside Stadium and to make it more challenging for the manager John Flanagan he was without four regular players in Joe Guest, Adam Morgan, Danny Shaw & Cameron McJannett. Replacing those players were 5 inexperienced youth team players who occupied their places on the bench.
The first half chance of the game fell to Curzon on 7 minutes after defending a corner Chris Rowney set Connor Hughes off down the left hand side, Hughes cut in onto his right and hit an effort from around 25 yards which went wide of Steven Drench’s near post.
Hughes again gets past his marker Mark Ross on 11 minutes and gets into the box but with only the keeper to beat he couldn’t lift the ball over Drench.
As for Bradford in the 1st 20 minutes they showed great endeavour going forward but failed to create any decent chances to trouble keeper Cameron Mason in the Curzon goal.
On 27 minutes after a long period of defending for Curzon, Curzon broke through Mason Fawns, he found Oliver Crankshaw with a great ball, Crankshaw did well to get inside the box only for his fellow team mate Ryan Brooke to take the ball off him and away for a goal kick.
The best chance of the game came on 35 minutes when Fawns found Niall Cummins with a lovely over the top ball, Cummins chested the ball down and hit his shot from around 6 yards out but it hit Drench and the chance went. Although Bradford were putting pressure onto Curzon, it was Curzon who were finding chances to hit the visitors on the counter attack.
This showed, when on 39 minutes Hughes had his third chance of the game from outside the box but Drench got down and saved with ease at his near post and on 41 minutes Cummins again latches onto a mistimed header but could only scuff it wide of the post.
The teams went in at half time level and although Bradford may of had most of the possession it was Curzon who created the better chances and should have at least converted one of them.
Bradford started the brighter in the second half with the impressive Jamie Spencer orchestrating most of their best moves and Ben McKenna was gifted an opportunity to open the scoring on 54 minutes after he was played in by Jake Beesley but Jack O’Leary was on hand to make the block.
On 57 minutes Bradford were forcing Curzon to put 10 men behind the ball allowing Nicky Wroe to move forward from the back and set himself up for a 25 yard effort which went over Mason’s crossbar.
On 61 minutes Bradford were awarded a dangerous free kick on the edge of the box and Brooke finds himself in the referee Adam Herczeg book after a blatant stamp. From the free kick on 64 minutes Jake Beesley headed home at the far post to break the deadlock.
Curzon hit back 4 minutes later after Brooke wriggled himself past a couple of defenders, he scuffed his effort but it fell kindly to Crankshaw who had his back to goal and with a sharp turn he slotted the ball past the hapless Drench.
Crankshaw was now alive and on 71 he made a great run at the Bradford’s defence, cutting inside from the left he smashes his effort just wide of the post.
In the last 10 minutes of the game both sides tried to go for the winner but both set of defences were holding strong but on 84 minutes Spencer went in for a tackle on Daniel Morton which went unpunished and ignited a 22 player melee in front of the Curzon dug out on this remembrance day at the stadium. With so much going on the referee spoke to his assistants to find out if they knew what had happened and could only produce 3 yellow cards with one of them going to Morton.
For the third time this season a team from the top six have failed to break down Curzon and record a win. For Curzon it was a hard working display from the midfield & back five and with some quality in the final third they might have won this game.
Match Report by David Jones and photo By Courtesy of Curzon Ashton Football Club