A last-gasp winner from Reece Thompson capped a thrilling comeback as Frickley Athletic beat FA Cup stars Blyth Spartans in the Evo-Stik Premier on Tuesday night.
After coming close to a major shock against Birmingham City in the third round of the FA Cup at the weekend it was back down to earth with a bump for the Spartans as they lost 2-1 at Westfield Lane.
And just as they surrendered a lead against the Football League club Blyth were pegged back again as they were one up at half-time only for Frickley to turn the tables on them after the break.
Sam Leigh continued in goal for the Blues with Ben Simpson still struggling with his back injury as Karl Rose started with the same side that drew at Grantham Town on New Year’s Day. Gavin Allott and Bobby Johnson came in on the bench.
In a first half of few real chances Blyth took the lead in the 14th minute when Michael Richardson fired past a motionless Sam Leigh from 20 yards out.
The Blues responded with Thompson heading wide following a cross from Jake Stannard then shooting wide on the turn.
A minute before half-time Thompson was sent clear down the left by Luke Jeffs and was brought down by Nathan Buddle as he cut into the box, but the referee awarded a free-kick right on the left hand edge of the area and Jeffs’ effort was headed clear.
Half-time saw Gavin Allott replace Brad Riley with Luke Hinsley moving out wide and the Blues were much more of a threat.
Allott had a shot deflected over while Thompson had an angled shot well saved by Peter Jeffries three minutes later.
The Blues had a let off on 52 minutes when Richardson found himself in space on the edge of the box but his shot came back off the post and Arran Wearmouth hit the outside of the same post from the rebound.
Frickley made the most of this three minutes later when Thompson seized on a poor back pass from Buddle to round Jeffries and slot the ball in from a tight angle.
Just after the hour Thompson cut into the box and squared for the unmarked Hinsley, who blazed over from 12 yards while Hinsley returned the compliment for Thompson seven minutes later only for Jeffries to block Thompson’s back post shot.
Blyth were still proving a threat with Robbie Dale cutting in from the left before seeing his strong shot blocked, but Thompson had another chance to put the Blues ahead on 73 minutes when Jeffs sent him clear before Jeffries was out quick to block.
Allott then cut in from the left and was adjudged to have been brought down inside the box, but his spot-kick lacked conviction and was blocked by Jeffries who then denied Allott from the rebound.
It looked like Frickley had missed their big chance, but in the 94th minute Matt Young’s free-kick from the left was half cleared to Allott whose first time volley from 16 yards was cleared off the line by a tremendous diving header. Jeffs’ corner looked to have curled straight in, but was headed out with the assistant referee unimpressed. However, Jeffs returned the ball into the box where Thompson spun to smash the ball past Jeffries from six yards for a dramatic winner with the last kick.
Frickley made a decent start to the New Year when they brought back a point from Lincolnshire in drawing 1-1 at Grantham Town after Luke Hinsley’s headed opener was cancelled out by a Michael Emmott strike.
Manager Karl Rose was dealt a blow just before kick-off when goalkeeper Ben Simpson suffered a back injury and had to be replaced by Sam Leigh with Jon Hood coming onto the subs’ bench. Matt Young returned after suspension with Matt Bloor recovering from his back injury that forced him off on Boxing Day while Reece Thompson also returned, but top scorer Gavin Allott was unfit.
On a blustery day Grantham had the wind advantage in the first half, but although they enjoyed by far the majority of the play, it was the Blues who had the better chances to score.
Twice in quick succession Thompson caught the Grantham defence sleeping and burst clear. The first time, in the 12th minute, saw him sprint away down the left and cut inside before seeing his angled 15-yard shot tipped away by Dan Haystead with Luke Hinsley shooting wide from the loose ball.
A minute later Thompson again burst clear only to shoot into the side netting from a tight angle. Almost immediately Danny Meadows put an angled shot over for the hosts.
Lee Miveld and Daniel Cockerline also hit efforts over before the half-time whistle ended a goalless half.
Despite playing into the wind in the second half Grantham caused a few anxious moments in the Blues’ box early on, but Matt Young went close for the Blues in the 53rd minute, shooting narrowly over from 25 yards.
Three minutes later the Blues took the lead when Brad Riley sent over a cross from the left which Hinsley headed past a rooted Haystead.
The lead did not last long, however, as Leigh pulled off a great block with his legs to deny Paul Grimes from close range, but the loose ball broke to Michael Emmott who lashed a first time shot into the top left hand corner from the edge of the box.
Hinsley looked to have sent Thompson clear shortly afterwards but Thompson was dragged back by Tom Batchelor who was cautioned for his efforts. The resulting free-kick by Luke Jeffs was pushed over the bar by Haystead.
As the game entered the last 10 minutes Leigh comfortably saved a curling 25-yard free-kick from Meadows while at the other end Thompson just failed to reach a great ball into the six-yard box from Jeffs on the left.
On 84 minutes Thompson sent over a great cross for Hinsley, but his header flew agonisingly wide with Haystead beaten.
The last few minutes saw Grantham threaten with Grimes shooting just wide of the right hand post from 18 yards when being sent clear while the same player fired a 19 yard free-kick into the wall in the 87th minute.
The last of four minutes of stoppage time saw Emmott sent clear, but Leigh got enough on the ball to, along with the wind assistance, slow the flight of the ball towards goal down enough for Jake Stannard to clear off the line.
It was honours even and a draw was probably a fair result in the end with conditions proving difficult.