Gavin Allott earned a valuable point for Frickley Athletic as they came from behind to draw 1-1 at home to Halesowen Town in the Evo-Stik Premier League on Tuesday night.
The draw was not enough to move the Blues out of the relegation zone but the second half showing should give confidence for Saturday’s crunch clash at Marine.
Manager Karl Rose was boosted by the returning trio of goalkeeper Ben Simpson, central defender John Cyrus and club captain Matty Bloor.
However, it was the visitors who were soon on the attack and came close to scoring in bizarre fashion after just four minutes when Brad Riley’s header back to Simpson forced his goalkeeper into a diving save to push the ball away into the path of Aarron Daniels, but his close range shot from a tight angle hit the near post and bounced to safety.
Iyseden Christie put an 18-yard shot wide before Daniel Bragoli sent Daniels clear down the right of the box and he checked back inside before firing past Simpson from 15 yards to give Halesowen a deserved 20th minute lead.
Christie was then sent clear and he hooked the ball over the advancing Simpson but Jake Stannard got back to clear before the Blues fashioned their first real chance on 33 minutes when Reece Thompson did well down the right before cutting the ball across the box to Allott only for it to get stuck under his feet for the chance to go.
Christie was through again a minute later but he lobbed the ball over Simpson and wide of the goal from 20 yards.
The Blues then forced the first save out of Matthew Sargeant on 37 minutes when Thompson sent in a stinging 18-yard shot that the keeper pushed away for a corner.
Luke Jeffs’ resulting corner was cleared back to him and he played it back into the box for Allott to flick on and Thompson to steer the ball in from close range but the “goal” was ruled out for the tightest of offside decisions against Thompson.
Allott saw his cross from the left deceive everyone in the box and force Sargeant to tip it past the post straight after half time and Jameel Ible headed the resulting corner wide of the near post as the Blues started to pose more of a threat.
It was not until the introduction of Danny South as a 67th minute substitute for Luke Hornsey that the Blues really set about their task. A last-ditch tackle from Joseph Hull prevent Allott from getting a shot in as South, Thompson and Allott combined.
An Allott shot was blocked in the 74th minute with Bloor stabbing the ball back into the goalmouth but Thompson just could not quite stretch enough to divert the ball in from close range.
Two minutes later Frickley got their reward as South headed a Jeffs cross into the path of Allott who went past Curtis Tilt before firing an angled shot past Sargeant.
Within 60 seconds Thompson was cynically brought down by Aaron Forde as he turned Tilt on the edge of the box with Forde being cautioned for his actions. Unfortunately, Jeffs’ free-kick struck the defensive wall.
With the Blues pushing for a winner the visitors broke in the 87th minute with Thomas Tonks sending over a cross from the right that substitute Aaron Griffiths fired into the side netting at the back post.
In the last seconds of stoppage time Jeffs sent over a corner which was met by the head of South and looked to be destined for the top right hand corner until Sargeant somehow flung himself across to claw the ball away.
Frickley: Simpson, Stannard, Jeffs, Hornsey (South 67), Cyrus, Ible, Riley, Bloor, Thompson, Allott, Hinsley.
Frickley were left disappointed on Saturday after letting a promising position slip at home to Witton Albion.
After taking the lead through Reece Thompson the Blues pressed the self destruct button as they missed a penalty and had Luke Hinsley sent-off on the way to a 3-2 defeat.
Frickley were without the injured Matty Bloor and John Cyrus with Macaulay Parkinson continuing in midfield and Jameel Ible coming into the defence. The returning Danny South had to be content with a place on the bench as Gavin Allott was fit.
Parkinson forced Andrew Robertson into an early save with an 18-yard shot in the fourth minute and soon after Ible headed over a deep free-kick by Luke Jeffs from six yards with the goal at his mercy. At the other end, Witton captain John Shaw glanced a header wide before Ible made a great blocking tackle on Alex Titchiner.
But it was the Blues who took the lead on 14 minutes when Thompson headed home a Jeffs free-kick.
They went close to another as Hinsley’s shot was cleared off the line following a good run from Brad Riley and Parkinson put the loose ball just over from the edge of the box.
After being in control of the game for the opening 20 minutes the Blues started to let the visitors back into the game with Chris Salt and Jake Stannard making crucial clearances in quick succession.
There was more than an element of luck about Witton’s equaliser when it came in the 32nd minute as Daniel Andrews fired in a shot from 30 yards that was going well wide before Salt stuck out a leg to send the ball looping just inside the left hand post with Sam Leigh completely wrong-footed.
The afternoon went from bad to worse for the Blues just before half-time as Hinsley brought down Thomas Schofield on half way and was sent off for allegedly spitting at the Witton player.
This was to prove costly as within a minute Andrews took advantage of the Blues failing to clear the resulting free-kick to shoot past Leigh.
Frickley were presented with a way back into the game six minutes into the second half when Allott sent Thompson away and he was cynically tripped from behind by Shaw who received a yellow card. But Allott’s tame spot-kick lacked conviction, allowing Robertson to push the ball past the post.
South replaced Riley on 58 minutes as manager Karl Rose sacrificed midfield to bolster his attack, but it was Witton who scored again as Titchiner fired home from a corner.
The Blues tried to hit back as South headed a Jeffs corner over from four yards and Allott had an angled shot smothered by Robertson.
Leigh saved smartly to deny Zac Corbett before Frickley scored a second goal two minutes into stoppage time when Parkinson sent Thompson clear and he held off Shaw to steer the ball past Robertson from 12 yards.
Frickley: Leigh, Stannard, Jeffs, Hornsey, Ible, Salt, Riley (South 58), Parkinson, Thompson, Allott, Hinsley.