Brackley Town’s play-off hopes continued to fade away with a second successive home defeat as they were beaten 1-0 by Bradford PA on Saturday.
Paul Walker’s 89th minute strike won the game for the visitors on an afternoon when neither team got into gear with both goalkeepers rarely tested.
The defeat leaves Saints with just three wins in their last 10 outings and keeps them in eight in the Conference North.
Early strikes by Saints’ David Bridges and Bradford’s Richard Marshall had promised more but there was little excitement for a meagre crowd on a chill, grey afternoon. Overall, Brackley enjoyed the greater possession and chances but lacked the energy and invention to make them tell, falling to Walker’s fine late finish.
Avenue twice threatened in the first half as debut goalkeeper Alex Lynch, on loan from Peterborough United, saved at full stretch from Paul Beesley’s neat shot on the turn and captain Ryan Austin’s last ditch intervention after a loose back pass saved the day for Saints as half-time approached.
Brackley hit the bar from Glenn Walker’s curling corner kick as John Lamb struggled with the strong wind and on two occasions hesitant defending in the danger zone was almost punished.
The first half corner count of six to two reflected the balance of the game but Saints lacked a cutting edge, the industrious Steve Diggin always the most likely source of a breakthrough.
The second half was dominated by the home side but their pressure resulted in few clear cut chances with Lamb rarely discomforted. Izak Reid’s free-kick after 66 minutes flicked the crossbar and Remy Clerima made good contact with his head to Reid’s free-kick but was just wide.
Walker’s intervention at the death was a cruel blow for Saints but summed up the current spell of form as the promise of a top five finish has melted away to leave Saints still in with a shout of a play-off place but needing an urgent recovery in confidence and form.
Brackley Town: Lynch, Clerima, Odhiambo, Bridges (Nisevic 80), Sharpe, Austin, Reid, Solkhon, Moore, Diggin (Rowe 80), Walker (Story 89).
Subs not used: Towers, Langdon.
Bradford PA: Lamb, Black (Howarth 90), Drury, Marshall, Knowles, Qualter, Deacey, Hotte, Chilaka, Beesley (Boshell 78), Walker.
Subs not used: Maxfield, Clayton, Price.
Referee: Neil Radford