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Bower: ‘Survival is still the aim’

Bradford Park Avenue manager Mark Bower insists “survival is still the aim” for his side following their narrow 2-1 triumph over Leamington in the National League North.

Early goals from Brad Dockerty and skipper, Luca Havern, were enough for the hosts to pick up the victory at the Horsfall Stadium and move 12 points clear of the relegation zone.

Bower believes it was a game of two halves on the evening, but stressed that the result was the most important thing and it was a huge step towards survival.

He said: “I was really pleased with how well we played in the first half especially in the opening stages of the game when we went two goals in front.

“We controlled the game really well, caused them all sorts of problems, and had even had other chances.

“In the second half, we needed to keep the ball and dominate possession but we never really did that.

“2-0 is always a precarious score-line because that next goal becomes crucial.

“We looked a little bit nervous and half a yard short at times. They were picking up a lot of loose balls and controlled the game.

“We are not bouncing off the walls because we were a little bit disappointed with how we have done in that second half and we know we are better than that.

“It was no surprise when their goal came and our overall performance was not great but I have to give the lads credit for how they defended, kept Leamington out, and just about got the three points for us.

“Any kind of win is one to celebrate and be pleased with. You have to show different types of character to win football matches and we have been doing that recently.

“We still have to stay up and make sure that we are still playing in this league next season.

“That is our first target and this win is a big step towards achieving that.

“Hopefully, we can secure survival sooner than later and then we can start looking up the table.”

Bower then spoke about how much he has enjoyed his two spells managing the club.

The former Bradford City defender originally spent three years managing Park Avenue from 2016 until the end of the 2018/2019 season before returning for a second spell in charge just a few months later.

He added: “I have really enjoyed it.

“We have had different targets in those times. When I first came in, the goal was to stay up and we did that.

“We then wanted to push up to the top half of the table and towards the play-offs and then of course, we had the two seasons which were interrupted by Covid.

“In the last couple of years, there has been a change of emphasis as in trying to develop younger players and get the club on more of a sustainable footing and something that will be here for generations to come.

“I have been really played with how the lads have done this season on the whole. To be where we are in the league at this stage, we have done really well.

“We have to keep going now. We have had some success with younger players that have moved on up the leagues and progress their careers and we have a few more in now that we are hoping to do the same with.”

The Park Avenue then touched on the importance of his side finishing this campaign strongly.

Bower also mentioned just how great it has been to be playing in front of supporters again throughout this season.

He continued: “It has been three seasons since we completed a full one so hopefully, we can finish this one strongly and in a good position.

“That will give us a good platform to go and recruit good players for next season and be able to kick on.

“It has been great this season to have supporters back in.

“Last year we managed to get some games done but it just never felt the same without the supporters in.

“It has been good to play in front of a crowd and there have been some good crowds up and down the league.”

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