25.2.2012

Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Frickley Athletic

South (90)

Hednesford Town

Jevons (42)

(0) 1

(1) 1

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204

Jay Denny

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Whitby Town (A) 3.3.12

The Pitmen blew a fantastic opportunity to give themselves breathing space ahead of the rest of the play-off chasing pack, as a last-gasp equaliser from Frickley's Danny South costs Rob Smith's side a first victory in four games

Last week's draw at home to Marine had seen Gary Hay limp off in the second half, and it was little surprise to see the veteran hitman start amongst the substitutes. Nick Wellecomme was rewarded for his bright cameo against Marine with a start up front alongside Mark Beesley. Ben Jevons was also restored to the starting XI in place of Liam Blakeman, who dropped to the bench. Jamey Osborne was available again after suspension and joined Hay and Blakeman amongst the replacements

A swift start from the Pitmen saw them force two early corner kicks inside the first five minutes, with Jevons just failing to get a touch on Elliott Durrell's wicked cross on four minutes

Beesley, still searching for a first Hednesford goal after his prolific spell at Burscough, fired narrowly wide a minute later with a low drive from the edge of the penalty area

Frickley took their turn to put pressure on the Hednesford defence, forcing their own plethora of set-pieces on ten minutes. However, the excellent defensive partnership of Cheyenne Dunkley and Jermaine Johnson dealt calmly with the situation and cleared their lines on three occasions

Frickley's first sight of goal came on sixteen minutes, as Ryan Mallon's cross was headed wide of goal by Danny South, who really should have tested the reflexes of Dan Crane

Two minutes later, Frickley's James Ashmore cleared the crossbar with a wild free-kick won after a foul on Mark Gray by Chris Clements

Dunkley lived dangerously midway through the half as he clashed with South inside the penalty area, with the former Wakefield striker going down under the challenge. However, the referee waved away any appeals from the Frickley players and continued with the game

After weathering the ten-minute storm from the hosts, Hednesford hit back with a great chance for Jevons on twenty-five minutes. Ben Bailey's long throw was partially cleared by the Frickley defence, only for Durrell to cross for Jevons to head wide of the left-hand post

Dunkley tried his luck with a long-range drive two minutes later, firing over the crossbar from fully thirty yards after Frickley cleared a Clements corner to him

The Pitmen had started to turn the screw, as they dominated periods of possession as they looked for the opening goal. Skipper Jay Denny, in excellent form in recent weeks, continued his domination of midfield with a number of clever passes and vital tackles

On the half-hour mark, Gray was almost left red-faced as he sliced Durrell's low cross narrowly over his own crossbar to concede a corner, although it could well have ended up in the net on another day with a little less luck. From the resultant kick, the ball dropped to Johnson, but his acrobatic effort cleared the crossbar

Durrell was involved once again on forty-two minutes, as the Pitmen finally made the pressure tell with the opening goal. Durrell's corner kick was played straight back to him, with the little playmaker sending over a superb cross that Jevons headed past Frickley keeper Steve Dickinson from close range

The goal sparked Frickley's attacking threat back into life, as they earned three successive corners in the final minute of the half. The final corner caused havoc in the ranks, with South glancing a header goalwards, only to be denied by Johnson's clearance off the line

Frickley continued to press after a half time talk from manager Peter Rinkcavage and should have levelled five minutes after the restart. A free-kick from Ashmore found South in the area, with the forward flicking the ball onto Ben Turner, whose goalbound shot was blocked by Jevons at the far post

South could count himself lucky to stay on the pitch two minutes later, as he caught Dunkley in the head with a flailing elbow as the two players challenged for a high ball. Whilst Dunkley received treatment, South was shown a yellow card and incurred a severe warning from the referee

The Pitmen almost undid all their own good work on fifty-four minutes, as Kyle Haynes made a crucial error in gifting the ball to Ollie Ryan just outside his own penalty area. Ryan advanced on goal, and felt that he was clipped by Crane as he attempted to take the ball around the Hednesford keeper. However, the referee waved away the protests from Frickley players still smarting at the failure to award them a penalty earlier in the game

A scrappy period of play saw neither side press home their advantage, with Smith deciding on a change in midfield on sixty-seven minutes; Osborne made his return to the side after his four-match suspension as he replaced goalscorer Jevons

Four minutes later, Haynes went close to extending the visitor's lead as he broke free down the left-hand side and cut inside. However, his shot from a tight angle only succeeded in finding the side netting as Dickinson covered his near post

Frickley's response saw Ashmore cross well for South on seventy-three minutes, but his shot missed the target by sailing past the post

The lively South had kept Dunkley and Johnson on their toes with a positive display, and he went even closer to equalising on seventy-eight minutes as he headed Mallon's cross back across goal but watched as it looped over the head of Crane and narrowly over the crossbar

As the Pitmen looked to run the clock down, the hard-working Wellecomme made way for Hay up front on eighty-four minutes

Just when the Pitmen thought they had done enough to clinch a morale-boosting victory, Frickley grabbed a deserved leveller as the game entered added time. Mallon's run down the left saw him send over a cross that was fired goalwards by midfielder Danny Walsh. Dunkley made a brilliant goal-saving block, getting his body in the way of the ball as it looked to be heading for the corner of the net. Despite the heroic block, Dunkley's deflection ended up dropping at the feet of substitute Brad Grayson, who squared the ball to South, who fired home

And yet there was still enough time for the Pitmen to almost snatch all three points. A Clements free-kick was played into the box and fell to Beesley. His initial shot was blocked, but his rebound forced Dickinson into a fine save down low to his left to clinch a valuable point for the home side at the death

The Pitmen will have been disappointed at the conceding of the late goal that leaves them a full eight points off league leaders Chester, with the play-offs now looking a more and more likely eventuality for Smith's spluttering side. Another long trip next weekend sees Hednesford make the trip up to Whitby Town looking to turn around their recent indifferent form

Frickley Athletic: Dickinson, Cyrus (Schofield 79), Turner, Walsh, Ludlam ©, Gray, Bleau, Ashmore, South , Ryan (Grayson 71), Mallon      Subs Unused: Hood

Hednesford Town: Crane, Bailey, Haynes , Dunkley, Johnson, Denny ©, Durrell, Clements , Wellecomme (Hay 83), Beesley, Jevons ▆ (Osborne 67)       Subs Unused: Blakeman, Landell, Grice