Bower says Avenue have laid good foundation for second half of campaign

National North 

Bradford (Park Avenue) manager Mark Bower

Bradford (Park Avenue) have laid a good foundation to build upon during the first half of the campaign, says Mark Bower.

Avenue have recovered their disastrous start to the season to be 17th with 25 points with one game to go before their campaign reaches their halfway mark.

“We were pretty dreadful in the first quarter whereas the form in the second quarter would take you a long way,” Bower told Non League Yorkshire.

“We have been Jekyll and Hyde, but overall where we are in the table is maybe where our performances have merited.

“We feel we have a bit more in us and the lads are starting to hit form and the young players are continuing to improve.

“We have improved the squad as the season has gone on and we feel we can kick on.

“You do see teams struggling with injuries, which if we were to pick up a few injuries that would really affect us.

“Whilst we have everyone fit it is important we get points on the board.

“There’s the ratio of one point something that will get you safe and another ratio which will get you into the play-offs but you’re never going to pick points in even runs.

“You’re going to have bursts where you pick up good form and then you’re going to have dips in performances where things go against you.

“We have shown we are capable and there’s no reason why we can’t go into the second half of the season thinking we can push on.”

Avenue’s focus is now on the unmissable festive double-header against local rivals Farsley Celtic.

Avenue host the fixture on Boxing Day before venturing into Leeds on New Year’s Day. 

Farsley have a major opportunity to potentially climb out of the relegation zone whereas Avenue could take a big leap towards safety and may be able to start alining their sights on a play-offs push.

Bower has downplayed the magititude of the fixtures and is refusing to look too far ahead.

“I don’t think we’re saying anything long-term (to the players), whether that’s going down or anything above that,” he said.

“We just approach it as the next game.

“The biggest factor in our dressing room will be that Farsley came to our place a few weeks ago and beat us in the FA Trophy.

“The lads were disappointed that day as we didn’t play as well as we can do.

“We certainly can do better and I think putting that one right will be the main driving force as on the day we felt it was a good opportunity for us and we let it slip.

“We want to put that right and points is what we need, it doesn’t matter who we get them against but if you’re getting them against teams who are down there it makes it sweeter.

“Three points is the main thing we are looking for on Boxing Day and then again on New Year’s Day.

“It is an opportunity (to move up the table) but that opportunity will come again the week after when we play Kettering.

“There’s four teams who go down so I’m sure Farsley will be worrying about more teams than just us.

“We certainly worry about more than just Farsley.

“We have seen our quickly things can change.

“I respect Russ (Wilcox) a lot and I listened to him (on BBC Radio Leeds) when he talked about us and he said a lot of people had us dead and buried after ten games.

“All of a sudden you can find some form.

“If somebody had said back then that we’d be out of the relegation zone by Christmas, you would have thought they were crazy.

“Things can change quickly and we have to make sure we carry on our momentum.”

That momentum has been built up thanks to three straight wins at the end of November and start of December prior to the big freeze.

Avenue dispatched Boston United, Buxton and AFC Telford United and Bower added: “We played well on a whole.

“I thought we were good value for the Boston win. The second half performance was as well as we have played all season.

“I thought we controlled the Buxton game for large spells and although we left it left. I felt we deserved to win that game.

“Against Telford we weren’t great and they would consider themselves the better throughout the course of the game and probably were but the best teams in the league win games like that all the time.

“We have not done that enough so it was good to win a game ugly.

“Picking up points when you’re not at your best is a good sign.

“As it was the third win on the bounce it gives a lot of confidence.

“We’re just disappointed we haven’t been able to play since.

“It takes some pressure off I guess when you pick up (a string of) wins like that and players can play with a bit more freedom.

“We had good strength in numbers, pretty much everyone fit.

“We’re in a good place and because it has been a while (since we played) that feeling dissipates a little bit.

“We have to be confident because we have been playing well recently and started to pick up the results our performances deserve.”

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