AFC Telford v Bradford PA: Bucks out to keep up home run

It is almost the end of November and AFC Telford United are still unbeaten at the New Bucks Head.

Theo Streete is suspended for the big clash
Theo Streete is suspended for the big clash

That is a stunning achievement, especially when you consider they finished last season with the third-worst home record in National League North.

Gavin Cowan and his charges should be very proud of their efforts so far this campaign – the Bucks supporters certainly have their smiles back.

But they have an enormous task on their hands to keep hold of that fantastic record. Telford, who are third with 31 points after 18 games, host top-of-the-table Bradford Park Avenue tomorrow.

The Bucks go into the clash on a five-match unbeaten run in the league – six in all competitions after beating Darlington 2-0 in the FA Trophy last Friday.

Avenue are six without defeat in the league – although they were thumped 4-0 by Altrincham in the Trophy last weekend – so it is should prove to be a hard-fought, high-quality encounter.

Not many would have predicted the two teams to be where they are at this stage, but both have excelled due to their huge commitment to the cause.

“We are very happy with where we are, we believed what we could do at the start of the season – and I was vocal about my optimism when I came here,” said Cowan.

“I am not surprised by the start, and that isn’t arrogance. I don’t want that to come across, but we aren’t surprised and it is down to the hard work.

“We believe we are on to something great. Businesses are re-engaging with the club, and there is a togetherness at the club, there is a real buzz and we want to capitalise on that.

“There will be peaks and troughs, but that is what will happen. We just need to remain positive.”

In terms of who to watch for Avenue, Shane Killock has been rock solid, just as he was in his three years at Telford – captaining them to promotion to non-league’s top tier via the play-offs in 2011. But he is not the only ex-Bucks skipper on their books.

He is likely to be joined in defence by Luca Havern, who had the armband for all of 2016/17 under Rob Smith before leaving for Avenue in order to be nearer his Manchester home.

Others for Telford fans to be wary of are goalkeeper Steven Drench, who is regarded as one of the best glovesmen at the level, former Shrewsbury man Nicky Wroe and striker Jake Beesley.

The Bucks, meanwhile, have centre-half Theo Streete and left-back Steph Morley suspended – Streete serving a one-game ban because of accumulating five yellow cards, and Morley banned for two after being sent off for dissent at Darlington. New loan signing Brendon Daniels could play a part though.

Ultimately, Telford will be eager to avoid a repeat of last season’s meeting of the two teams at the NBH, where a series of high-profile errors saw Avenue seal a comfortable 4-1 victory.

Havern, Adam Boyes, Adam Nowakowski and Oli Johnson found the net before Marcus Dinanga’s mere consolation for the hosts.

Based on what we have seen from Cowan’s team so far though, the Bucks will put up much more of a fight this time around.

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