Frickley Athletic went down 2-0 at Ashton United in an Evo-Stik Premier League game dominated by controversial decisions from referee Michael Hanley.
Hanley harshly sent off Ashton’s Aaron Burns in the 18th minute and then ignored a handball as Adam Morning put the home side ahead on the half-hour.
Manager Karl Rose started with the same 11 who performed admirably at Chorley on Saturday and the opening exchanges were fairly even with Will Haining firing a 30-yard shot just over the bar for the hosts on 10 minutes and the Blues responding immediately, forcing a corner on the right. The quickly taken flag kick saw Royale Johnson send over a deep cross which Luke Hinsley met at the far post, but his goalbound header struck the onrushing John Cyrus and rebounded to safety.
Cyrus was involved again on 17 minutes, seeing his header cleared off the line following a Luke Jeffs’ corner and a minute later Ashton were reduced to 10 men. Burns seemingly innocently caught Sebastian Malkowski with a flailing arm after failing to reach a through ball and referee Hanley immediately produced a red card.
The referee appeared to make another mistake 12 minutes later as he ignored a handball offence as Morning took the ball past Cyrus to beat Malkowski from the edge of the box.
The pace of Johnson in particular was causing the Ashton defence problems and he got behind the home back line on 33 minutes to cut the ball back for Zeph Thomas whose first time shot from 15 yards was blocked by a defender.
Thomas went close again on 41 minutes but his low shot from Tyler Williams’ cross was smothered at the foot of the post by Paul Phillips.
The Blues pushed forwards at the start of the second half but were thwarted largely by a packed Ashton defence. Some good football down the left on 56 minutes saw Jacob Hazel in front of goal just fail to reach Hinsley’s cross while Brad Dockerty, who had replaced the injured Simon Lenighan, had a header saved on the line by Phillips.
The Ashton keeper collected a curling 25-yard shot from Macaulay Parkinson on 75 minutes and Johnson headed just wide from a Jeffs cross as the game entered the last ten minutes.
A frantic five minutes of stoppage time saw Williams volley wide from 15 yards following a deep cross from Jeffs while a quick Ashton break saw Malkowski push away an 18-yard shot from Chris Baguley.
In the final seconds, with most of the Blues players pushed up the field in an attempt to salvage a point Ashton worked the ball well down the right hand side for substitute Matty Chadwick to cut into the box and lash the ball past Malkowski.
Other than the result it was disappointing to see Phillips in the Ashton goal twice looking to feign injury in attempt to influence referee Hanley to even up the numbers. On the first occasion Phillips was partly successful, with Thomas receiving a yellow card, but on the second occasion Hanley was not impressed yet took no further action with Phillips.
Frickley Athletic: Malkowski, Parkinson, Jeffs, HInsley, Cyrus, Ible, Williams, Lenighan (Dockerty 58), Hazel (Wood 73), Thomas, Johnson.
Frickley Athletic’s FA Cup adventure is over for another year after they lost 2-0 at Chorley in the second qualifying round on Saturday.
The Blues gave as good as they got against their Vanarama National League North opponents, but the result hinged on a 60th minute penalty decision when Macaulay Parkinson was adjudged to have brought down Darren Stephenson inside the box.
Once James Dean converted the spot-kick the Blues were forced to chase an equaliser which enabled Dean to score a second on the break two minutes from time.
There was one change to the side that won at Rushall Olympic last week with Luke Jeffs replacing Lee Stratford who had been standing in at left-back. Brad Dockerty returned to the bench after being unavailable on Tuesday.
Luke Hinsley fired a 25 yard shot over the bar within the first 60 seconds as the Blues showed they were not going to overawed by their higher ranked opponents.
The home side responded with a long ball sending Dean away, but Sebastian Malkowski was down smartly to smother Dean’s 18-yard shot.
Malkowski saved well with his legs from Stephenson on 19 minutes before Tyler Williams replied for the Blues, cutting in from the left before seeing his low 18-yard shot comfortably saved by Sam Ashton.
A great cross-field ball from Royale Johnson in the 28th minute saw him pick out Hinsley on the right and cut inside to see his low shot tipped past the post by Ashton at full stretch.
Johnson was involved again three minutes later, doing well down the right before cutting the ball back to Jacob Hazel whose first time 25-yard shot was blocked inside the box by Andy Teague.
With little between the sides at half-time Malkowski was called into action straight after the interval, blocking a low angled shot from Stephenson at the foot of his near post.
Williams tried his luck with a 35-yard shot on 58 minutes that just cleared the bar while seconds later Jameel Ible headed wide of the far post following a deep free-kick by Jeffs.
The defining moment of the game came on the hour when Stephenson and Parkinson tangled inside the box after Stephenson cut inside from the Chorley left and the referee awarded a penalty.
Dean stepped up to easily beat Malkowski from the spot and Frickley were left to chase the game.
Parkinson attempted to make amends five minutes later, but Ashton collected his curling 20 yard free-kick after Williams had been pushed over.
Having to chase the game the Blues pushed men forward, but were struggling to create many clear chances, although a good run from Johnson down the middle in the 80th minute saw him feed Hazel who curled a left footed shot inches wide of the left hand post from the edge of the box.
The result was put beyond doubt in the 88th minute when a long clearance sent Dean sprinting away from his own half and he did well to hold off both Hazel and Ible to cut into the box and fire past Malkowski.
Frickley Athletic: Malkowski, Parkinson (Wood 71), Jeffs, Hinsley, Cyrus, Ible, Williams, Lenighan, Hazel, Thomas, Johnson.