Frickley finish in highest position for 10 years

Tom Davie (left), who scored the winner for Frickley Athletic against Stourbridge.
Tom Davie (left), who scored the winner for Frickley Athletic against Stourbridge.

Despite suffering a narrow 1-0 defeat at Nantwich Town in their last game of the season, Frickley Athletic have finished in their highest league position for 10 years.

The Blues ended the campaign in seventh place in the Evo-Stik Premier League – only the second time in 22 years that they have finished in the top 10.

Their final game was a disappointment as playing a fourth game in eight days caught up with the players and their nine-match unbeaten run was brought to an end.

Macauley Parkinson missed the best chance in the first half while Seb Malkowski kept Nantwich out with a fine save, but generally both teams cancelled each other out.

The Blues came out after the interval with a bit more purpose and should have taken the lead on 48 minutes when Tyler Williams danced along the edge of the box before playing in Steve Jeff whose shot from 12 yards crashed off the underside of the bar to Tom Davie. His follow-up shot appeared to strike the hand of a defender but the referee was unmoved.

On 56 minutes Williams again was involved when he cut in from the right and struck a vicious shot from the edge of the box that the home keeper punched away.

The home side took the lead on 70 minutes when Liam Shotton got on the end of a long ball to finish well.

Moments later Williams shrugged off a challenge to burst into the area but his low shot from eight yards went agonisingly wide of the far post.

The game petered out slightly after that but the Dabbers were unlucky to stretch their lead when a misplaced pass from Jacob Hazel found James Baillie in space but his shot cannoned off the Blues bar.

Frickley: Malkowski, Ackroyd, Jeff, Ible, Bruce, Gooda, Parkinson, Lenighan, Davie, Williams (Wood), Hazel.

An inspired last five minutes saw Frickley come from behind to snatch all three points against Stourbridge with penalties from Jacob Hazel and Tom Davie.

Manager Karl Rose named an unchanged side from that which won at Buxton 48 hours earlier but for the first time it was evident that the tough schedule had started to have an effect.

Both teams looked heavy legged in the first half on a difficult surface with a congested midfield and too many long balls. Few chances of note were created in what was a low key half, only Jacob Hazel’s cross shot caused alarm in the away defence. At the other end the league’s leading scorer Karl Hawley headed over and then Tonks flashed a cross shot past the far post.

The Blues lost Luke Hinsley with a knee injury late in the first half. Steve Jeffs came on at left wing back with Davie taking Hinsley’s place in the front three, a move that was to have a huge impact later on.

Playing down the slope in the second half, Frickley started to pass the ball a little better and create more. Jameel Ible headed a Parkinson free kick just wide before Davie broke down the right hand side on 65 minutes and outpaced the left back before toe poking wide .

The Blues then lost John Cyrus with Louis Bruce coming on to replace him.

A minute later Stourbridge’s Lait missed a golden chance to break the deadlock, going through on goal before mis-controlling the ball and kneeing it gently into Seb Malkowsi’s grateful grasp.

That started a good period for the visitors in which Hawley flashed a shot across goal and they took the lead five minutes later. A corner from the left was whipped in and headed on for Hawley to turn and hook the ball in from six yards.

At this point, many sides would have folded but it seemed to spur the Blues on and they roared back into the game. On 87 minutes, Davie showed great control to kill the ball and turn near the centre circle. He then drove forward and played in Hazel on the right hand side.

Hazel was bundled over just inside the area with the referee appearing not to see the incident but the linesman flagged for a foul and referee Dean Watson pointed to the spot after a chat with his assistant. Up stepped Hazel to coolly send Gould the wrong way and level the scores with his 23rd goal of the campaign.

Hawley then missed a wonderful chance to seal the win for the Glassboys as he capitalised on Bailey Gooda’s hesitation to race in the area but the magnificent Malkowski pulled off another great save to keep the scores level.

Two minutes into stoppage time with the crowd fired up and Stourbridge visibly wilting Davie embarked on a run that will be remembered for many years, bulldozing his way through three challenges on the far touch line before racing into the box. A clumsy push in the back by Geddes led to one of easiest decisions of the season for the referee who again pointed to the spot. With Hazel having earlier made way for Chris Wood, Davie dusted himself down to plant the ball in the bottom left corner and spark a crowd celebration.

For the Blues it was a great end to a good home campaign which ended in 12 games without defeat.

Frickley: Malkowski, Davie, Parkinson, Lenighan, Cyrus (Bruce), Ible, Armstrong, Gooda, Hazel (Wood), Hinsley (Jeff), Williams.