Frickley Athletic can look forward to a big occasion at the end of the season after beating Staveley MW in the semi-finals of the Sheffield & Hallam Senior Cup.
The Blues will now face either Maltby Main or North Gawber Colliery in the final at either Bramall Lane or Hillsborough, with the second semi set to be played next week.
With a danger of Frickley’s season in the Evo-Stik East Division petering out as they have fallen behind in the race for a play-off place and are clear of the relegation zone, the cup took on extra significance, particularly with the club’s incredible record in the competition in recent years with six finals in seven years.
That is now is seven in eight after they fielded a strong side for the semi-final against NCE Premier club Staveley and went through with a goal in each half to win 2-0.
Frickley were ahead from the 15th minute when Jamie McGuire’s corner was powerfully headed home by centre-back Greg Young.
They came close to adding a second soon after as Todd Jordan’s effort went just wide. Top scorer Jacob Hazel then ran through, but was unable to finish off when one-on-one with the Staveley keeper who made a good save.
Tom Burgin sent a well struck shot inches wide and Liam Carrick – on as an early substitute for the injured Ben Algar – went down in the area only for big shouts for a penalty to fall on deaf ears. Hazel was unable to convert a chance created by Tyler Walton and it stayed 1-0 to the break.
Into the second half Hazel was denied by the keeper while home keeper Hugo Warhurst made a fine save to preserve the lead. Frickley finally put the tie to bed on 84 minutes when substitute Lewis Szanto put away a low cross.
Frustration was the overwhelming emotion last weekend as Frickley Athletic missed another chance to climb into the top half of the Evo-Stik East Division.
The Blues were forced to settle for yet another draw as they could only finish 1-1 at home to a Gresley team propping up the division. It was their sixth draw in 10 league games in 2019 and this record has left the club thinking what might have been if even half of these had been turned into wins – they would then be in with a real shout of the play-offs instead of the 12th place they find themselves in.
Frickley had enough chances to have won comfortably yet found themselves in a battle after going behind in the first half, Jacob Hazel’s 65th minute goal giving them their point.
With Tyler Walton and Tom Burgin suspended and Todd Jordan injured, manager Martin McIntosh had to rejig his starting line-up and Reiss Harrison came in for his debut.
Frickley almost made a flying start, but after Hazel was unable to take two early chances they went behind as a speculative shot by Kane Lee flew in from 20 yards.
The home side applied more pressure, but remained behind to half-time as a couple of headers from corners by Greg Young went wide. It could have been worse had it not been for a good save by Hugo Warhurst as he acrobatically clawed away a Gresley drive.
Early in the second half striker Miracle Okafor poked the ball past Gresley keeper Aiden Jeynes only for a defender to clear. Okafor and Sam Liversidge forced saves from Jeynes before Frickley finally had a goal as Hazel crashed the ball home from the edge of the box.
Only a smart save by Jeynes denied the hosts a winner as Phil Watt sent in a header. Chance after chance followed, but somehow Gresley survived for their first point in nine games as sub Lewis Szanto’s shot was deflected wide, Young powered a header past the upright and Jameel Ible’s effort looped over.
Frickley players now get a break with no game this weekend. They are next in action on Saturday week when hoping for a big crowd at their Westfield Lane ground for the first-ever visit of Ossett United.
Currently United occupy sixth place – one off a play-off position – while Frickley remain down in 12th and are 11 points behind Ossett.