Frickley Athletic endured a night of disappointment as they fell to an 83rd minutes winning goal at Witton Albion and were forced to finish with 10 men after Fernando Moke was sent off.
The result leaves the Blues five points from safety but with the team immediately above them, Marine, due to visit Westfield Lane on Saturday. Anything less than a win then will almost certainly leave Athletic looking to be the 21st position club at Step 3 with the best points per game ratio who will almost certainly earn a reprieve from relegation due to Vauxhall Motors’ resignation from the Football Conference.
Manager Karl Rose brought Joe Kenny in on the left of midfield in place of Jimmy Ghaichem while Kasper Amdal returned at right full back with Steve Gardner having decided to play for North Ferriby United. Jake Picton returned in midfield after suspension.
Witton’s Daniel Andrews had the first decent effort of the game in the sixth minute when he turned and shot straight at Ben Simpson from 18 yards.
The Blues responded four minutes later as a swift move saw Fernando Moke play the ball into the path of Picton whose 16 yard shot was deflected wide.
Ross Davidson saw his 20 yard shot pushed past the post by Simpson after 12 minutes and a minute later the resulting corner kick was inadvertently headed into his own net by Picton on the near post.
Alex Titchener saw his angled shot collected at the second attempt by Simpson a few minutes later and the Blues lost central defender Sam Denton to injury after 20 minutes with Andy Villermann replacing him.
The goalmouth action dried up until the last ten minutes of the half when the Blues started to force the pace as Leon Osborne replaced Kenny. On 37 minutes Picton’s high cross was dropped by Matt Cooper under pressure from Osborne but Moke could only fire the loose ball into the side netting.
The Blues got their reward five minutes later as Luke Hinsley sent Moke clear and he confidently stroked the ball past the advancing Cooper from just inside the box.
On the stroke of half-time Hinsley missed a golden opportunity to put the Blues ahead when Osborne sprinted away down the right and sent over a great cross only for the unmarked Hinsley to lift the ball over the bar from almost on the line.
The Blues continued to look dangerous in the second half but lost Picton due to a foot injury in the 52nd minute, Luke Jeffs replaced him. A good cross from Moke was turned just past his own far post by Anthony Gardner on 56 minutes.
Amdal was forced to clear off the Blues’ line on 64 minutes but the Blues had another good chance on 68 minutes when Hinsley set up Osborne who beat the last defender inside the box but saw his shot knocked just past the post by the advancing Cooper.
Hinsley headed just wide at the back post following a cross from the right by Wilcox on 75 minutes but the game changed on an incident in the 82nd minute. Moke had the beating of Albion left-back Alistair Brown, who was dragging Moke back. Play was allowed to continue with Moke eventually breaking away from Brown and cutting in towards goal. However, the assistant referee controversially ruled the ball had gone out of play with Moke being cautioned following the showing of his disgust at the decision.
The hosts immediately swept up the field and when the ball was played into the box from the left Titchener brilliantly controlled the ball before firing into the top right hand corner on 83 minutes.
Within a minute the Blues should have had an opportunity to level when Brown rugby-tackled Jeffs to the ground following a Frickley free-kick but, with the referee unsighted, the same assistant referee refused the signal for a spot-kick.
The events of the 82nd minute came back to haunt Moke in the 86th minute when he ran at Ross Davidson inside the box and went down as he tried to go past him. The referee deemed there had been no contact from the Witton defender and showed Moke a second yellow card, and subsequently a red, for simulation.
The impressive Luke Hornsey broke down the left of the box and saw his angled shot saved by Cooper on 87 minutes but the Blues almost gifted Witton a third goal in stoppage time when Hinsley’s throw back to Luke Sharry failed to reach him allowing Scott Bakkor to nip in and pinch the ball before having a clear run at goal but Simpson blocked Bakkor’s shot with his legs.
Witton Albion: Matt Cooper, Anthony Gardner, Alistair Brown, Michael Powell, Rob Bodie, Ross Davidson, Josh Hancock, Anthony Sheehan (Martyn Jackson 70), Scott Bakkor, Alex Titchiner, Danny Andrews. Unused subs. Jonathan Breeze, Cliff Moyo, Michael Moseley, Callum Burleigh.
Frickley Athletic: Ben Simpson, Kasper Amdal, Lee Stratford, Jake Picton (Luke Jeffs 52), Sam Denton (Andy Villermann 20), Joe Wilcox, Luke Hornsey, Luke Sharry, Fernando Moke, Luke Hinsley, Joe Kenny (Leon Osborne 35). Unused subs. Joe Davies, Jon Hood.
Referee: Matthew Corlett