Frickley Athletic came out on the wrong end of a ten-goal thriller in their Evo-Stik Premier League opener at Stamford on Saturday.
The Blues were made to pay for some sloppy defending as a lively Stamford outfit hit the ground running following promotion last season to condemn the Blues to defeat.
Goals from Gavin Allott, passed fit to play after missing much of the pre-season, Mark Gray, Joseph Fox and Luke Hinsley always kept Karl Rose’s men in it but the South Elmsall side were eventually edged out in a freescoring affair.
Jimmy Ghaichem was also fit to feature after suffering from a virus and Rose opted for Tom Woodhead over Jamie Green in goal.
But the visitors got off to a disastrous start when Ryan Robbins wriggled through the Blues’ defence to prod the ball past Woodhead and give the hosts a fourth-minute lead.
Within minutes Luke Hinsley had a great chance to level for Frickley but his low shot was collected at the second attempt by Stamford stopper Alex Lynch.
The Blues did not have to wait long to equalise, however, and in the 12th minute Mark Gray played in Allott with a superb ball and last season’s top-scorer burst through to strike the ball beyond Lynch and into the back of the net.
It handed the visitors the momentum but somewhat against the run of play Stamford were awarded a penalty just before the half-hour mark following a foul by Steve Gardner on Robbis inside the box. The referee pointed to the spot and Jordan Smith stepped up to score.
Things went from bad to worse for the Blues eight minutes later when Gardner conceded a throw-in which was launched long into the box and eventually found Smith, who stabbed the ball into the net at the back post.
But Frickley showed plenty of spirit to hit back again before half-time. Lynch produced a brilliant save to deny a Hinsley header but Gray hooked the rebound into the net to reduce the arrears going into the interval.
Chances continued to come at both ends on the resumption but it was Stamford who struck next restore their two-goal cushion. Gardner misjudged a low Stamford corner and Woodhead could not stop the ball flying into the back of the net.
The Blues were not done, however, and Joe Fox held off a couple of challenges when getting on the end of an Allott ball and he drilled the ball beyond Lynch to give Rose’s men hope.
Hinsley and Picton came close to hauling the Blues level again but they showed their defensive frailties with eight minutes to go as Shawn Richards was left unmarked to head against the crossbar and Daniel Lawlor drilled home the loose ball.
Still the Blues refused to lie down as Allott looked odds-on to have pulled a goal back on 87 minutes when he looped a header over Lynch only for the goalkeeper to somehow manage to stretch an extra few inches to claw the ball back off the line.
The deficit was reduced to 5-4 on 89 minutes as Hinsley beat the out-rushing Lynch to a long ball and headed in from the edge of the box and, as the game ran into stoppage time, the Blues forced a corner. Only substitute Andy Villermann and Tom Woodhead stayed back with almost all the rest of the Blues’ players in the Stamford box but, with no-one one on the edge of the box as the ball was cleared Stamford broke swiftly through Richards who crossed for Smith a complete his hat-trick and seal the win.
Stamford: Alex Lynch, Ryan Walker (Shawn Richards 31), Richard Wesley, Nathan Haines, Richard Jones (Andy Burgess 79), Ashley Robinson, Jon Challinor, Liam Richardson, Jordan Smith, Daniel Lawlor, Ryan Robbins. Unused subs, Tom Batchelor, David Staff, Aaron Kennedy
Frickley Athletic: Tom Woodhead, Joe Wilcox, Steve Gardner (Andy Villermann 63), Jake Picton, Mark Gray, Wes Milnes, Jimmy Ghaichem (Ollie Fearon 75), Matty Bloor, Luke Hinsley, Gavin Allott, Joe Fox. Unused subs. Luke Jeffs, Jason Yates, Karl Rose.
Referee: Mr Akil Howson.