Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Frickley Athletic 2 v Stocksbridge Park Steels 0 - Evo-Stik Premier Division

Frickley's young keeper Adam Billard warms up with the 'gaffer'

Tuesday 13th September, at the Tech 5 Stadium,
Westfield Lane, South Elmsall
Evo-Stik Premier Division
Frickley Athletic (0) 2
(Peter Knox 73, Bradley Grayson 77)
Stocksbridge Park Steels (0) 0
Admission £8, Programme £1.50, Attendance 220
Ta very much for printing off an extra team sheet for me Keith.
Some people will nick 'owt that's not nailed down

By heck, it was grim 'opp north' tonight.
'A bit parky' as they say round these parts.
It was fairly obvious from the outset, that the strong wind howling across the pitch from the 'allotments end' of the ground, was going to play a large part in how the game was (or wasn't) going to shape up ... the difficult conditions certainly made for a less than aesthetically pleasing spectacle at times.
Never was the strength of the wind better illustrated, than when Adam Billard hit a long up-field ball from his area, that got held up and redirected, before going out for a throw in yards before it had even reached the dug outs.
It reminded me of a windy day, that I once attended a Central Midlands league, 5 games in one day ground hop event on, where a Retford United goal kick was blown back towards where it had been launched from and went out for a corner without another player touching it.
Two weeks into September and Summer has apparently segued into Winter, without bothering about Autumn this year.
In the first half, Frickley struggled against the elements, while Steels, fighting to avoid getting dragged into the drop zone at the foot of the table, took advantage of having the wind behind them.
Adam Billard and his defence had to stand strong against a determined Stocksbridge side and did well to keep the score goalless going into the break.
The visitors did bundle the ball into the goal from a dipping right wing cross after half an hour, but the effort was ruled out for a foul on the Frickley keeper.
Peter Knox had a great chance just before half time to put the home side in front, but just failed to connect with the ball.
In the second half Stocksbridge knew what to expect and the weather wasn't likely to improve any time soon.
They packed the midfield in an attempt to thwart Frickley using the back wind to their advantage ... let battle commence!
After 66 minutes, Frickley's manager Pete Rinkcavage, took off the tiring Leon Henry, who had run himself to a standstill and added Bradley Grayson to the attack, to give Peter Knox different options, operating through the channels from a slightly less advanced role.
The results were immediate.
Four minutes after coming on, Grayson got a cross in from the right for Knox to shoot, but Ben Scott in the visitors goal held onto it.
But on 77 minutes, Knox surged through the right hand channel leaving four Stocksbridge players in his wake and belted the ball home from the edge of the 18 yard box.
The visitors resolve had been broken now and on 77 minutes,Knox turned provider ... instead of attacking the channel this time, he knocked the ball over the defence into the path of the already advancing Grayson who put his shot beyond Scott who was charging off his line to block the angle.
On 84 minutes Stocksbridge poured forward, trying to salvage something from the game and Anthony Tansley hit the underside of the Frickley crossbar ... the ball ricocheted back into play but Billard smothered it in the ensuing aftermath.
Frickley's two goal victory wasn't pretty to watch at times, but tonight's game was more about adapting to the difficult conditions to gain the all important three points, that catapulted the home side up to mid table ... while Stocksbridge have a real battle on their hands now, to drag themselves up out of the relegation battle that is beginning to shape up at the foot of the Evo-Stik Premier table.
Burscough, with all of their problems, are looking like favourites for the drop, but with a few of the more fancied sides floundering near the foot of the table at present, who will surely kick-start their season soon, it's going to be interesting to see who gets drawn into the fight for survival with the Linnets.
I'm glad it was only a 20 minute run home back down the A1, the high sided lorries swaying about in the strong crosswind made driving round them a bit of a challenge, but I lived to fight another day!