After their narrow loss to leaders Leek Town at the weekend, Frickley Athletic bounced back in another difficult game at home to third-placed Cleethorpes Town on Tuesday night.
The visitors came to Westfield Lane eight points above the Blues and took an early lead only for Dave Frecklington’s men to battle back to draw 1-1.
Frickley had Tyler Williams back after suspension and recent addition Jenk Acar available again after he missed the Leek game as they looked to go back into the top six in the BetVictor NPL South East Division. But they were without top scorer Jonny Margetts, who picked up an ankle injury against the table toppers, and Zeph Thomas came in to the side after rejoining the club just in time to play.
Alex Flett gave Cleethorpes an eighth minute lead, but the Blues were not overawed as Jacob Hazel, Thomas and Liam King all got efforts in.
The visitors were reduced to 10 men after Tim Lowe was sent off on the hour and were forced to hang on before Frickley finally took advantage to equalise nine minutes from time when Thomas marked his third “debut” for the club by scoring.
In an exciting finish Nathan Hotte and Hazel both had efforts saved while Caine Winfarrah hit the crossbar from a corner, but it ended all square.
Frickley were missing a number of regulars for their big test against Leek last Saturday, but despite the 1-0 defeat manager Dave Frecklington was pleased with the way his players stuck to their task in difficult circumstances.
He said: “We’ve got a lot of fighters in the changing room. We had four or five missing, but the two young lads that came in did brilliantly. Young Will (Sutton) at left-back stood up the task really well and Sherbs (Paul Sherburn) got an opportunity from the start and I thought he did really well.
“To a man they stuck to their task and we only conceded on the 65th minute, a scruffy goal. To be fair to Leek, they are hard to break down when they score. It was their 11th straight league win – that’s some going.
“They turned up and went one up top and that tells you how far we’ve come when the leaders are coming here to give us that respect.
“They knew they were going to be in a game and they got a game.”
Frecklington added: “It was disappointing when we had Sherbs sent off as it kind of killed it for us a little bit. But I thought as a whole again the lads gave us everything and while it is disappointing to lose a game it’s not like we’re getting opened up and we are competitive to the 95th minute.
“It’s easy to sleep at night when the lads are giving everything week in, week out.
“It’s just unfortunate as a football club that we had the start we did because you can afford to lose one of two, but in the position we are in we can’t really afford to lose many more. The run we’ve been on has been unbelievable, on two points a game and that’s championship form over a season.
“We’ve got to win as many games as possible to keep our season alive.”