Although they had to endure more frustration Frickley Athletic players earned praise from the manager as they came home with a point from their trip to Ilkeston Town.
A controversial penalty enabled Ilkeston to earn a 2-2 draw, but the way the Blues went toe to toe with opponents in the top four in the BetVictor NPL South East showed how far they have come since Dave Frecklington took charge – and the manager was pleased with what he saw.
He said: “Immensely proud of my Frickley boys.
“(It was a) proper away performance at Ilkeston. Game plan and attention detail was on point. It was the best performance so far and we more than deserved a point against a top side.
“I think we’ve been robbed of all three points. The penalty’s a disgrace – I’ve never seen them given for that. And the first goal he’s handballed it past the keeper.
“But my players were unbelievable. It was a great game and both teams played really well.”
Although they only claimed a point in the end in many ways it was Frickley’s best performance of the season as they came from behind to be level in the first half and looked to be heading for victory when taking the lead after the break only for Alex Marshall’s 77th minute penalty to deny them.
The Blues were on the front foot from the start, although they were stunned to go behind when a defensive mix-up allowed Jermaine Hollis to pass the ball into an empty net.
Jonny Margetts – back in the side after injury – had the ball in the home net soon after only to be flagged offside.
But Frickley were level on 39 minutes when Margetts was brought down in the area and picked himself up to put the resulting penalty away.
They opened the second half with renewed intent. Jacob Hazel went close twice either side of keeper Tom Jackson holding onto a stinging drive at the other end.
Frickley went ahead on 69 minutes when Hazel found Brad Wells with a great pass and the striker charged straight down the middle before firing home from 18 yards.
The lead lasted less than 10 minutes, however, as the referee awarded a soft penalty for a bit of pushing and shoving in the box. Marshall made no mistake from the spot to make it 2-2.
Both sides went for the winner, but no more goals were forthcoming with one alarm for the Blues when the hosts put the ball in the net only for their effort to be ruled out for a foul.
Frickley are back at home this Saturday when they play Spalding United who are four places above them in tenth and four points ahead.