Frickley Athletic are aiming to begin another good run after seeing their unbeaten 2019 record ended by title chasers Brighouse Town in the Evo-Stik League’s East Division.
The Blues had won three and drawn five of their eight games since the turn of the year and had only lost once since manager Martin McIntosh took over in December, but were left disappointed by a 1-0 defeat.
The loss was hard on Frickley, who had been the better team in the first half but had not been able to turn their chances into goals.
They were up against opponents in second place in the table who were on home ground and their task had been made more difficult as they had been dealt a blow in the week with striker Ant Wilson leaving the club. Tyler Walton was also suspended, but Todd Jordan came back into the starting 11 and young forward Miracle Okafor made a promising debut up front after joining on loan from Scunthorpe.
Any pre-match problems looked to have been put aside as the Blues took the game to their hosts from the start and were unlucky not to open the scoring after wave after wave of attacks.
Tom Burgin had a free-kick comfortably saved and top scorer Jacob Hazel let a good chance slip when through one-on-one only for home keeper Jordan Porter to save.
Okafor showed his ability as he broke through and clipped the ball over the keeper. His effort was blocked and no visiting player could get the finishing touch as the ball bounced round the box.
Good build-up play then released Hazel, but he was one again denied by Porter who made a fine save.
Frickley had rarely been threatened in the first half and the defence looked strong as it has been in recent months, but they switched off briefly in the 66th minute which allowed Brighouse to take the lead through Tom Robinson, who smashed the ball home after a cross had taken a deflection.
Frickley looked to hit back as Phil Watt saw a goalbound effort blocked and Jack Burton scuffed his shot when well placed. But they were indebted to keeper Hugo Warhurst for staying in the game when he made an incredible point blank stop to keep out a header from five yards out. They could not take advantage of this, however, with the home team seeing out the remainder to take all the points.
Despite the defeat there were positives for Frickley, particularly with the promise shown by the new front two of Okafor and Hazel.
Okafor’s display should keep him in the side for this Saturday’s return to Westfield Lane when the Blues host Gresley who are bottom of the table with just two away wins all season.
Frickley are also in action at home to Staveley MW on Tuesday night as they bid to reach the final of the Sheffield & Hallam Senior Cup (kick-off 7.45pm).