Frickley Athletic 4-3 Stafford Rangers
The Blues finished their League season with a 4-3 victory over Stafford Rangers which saw the Blues finish fourth bottom of the League.
Having to win their final game of the season and rely on other results going their way in order to finish out of the relegation places the Blues beat Stafford Rangers more comfortably than the 4-3 scoreline suggests and an hour into the game threatened to reel in the 6 goal deficit needed to overhaul Stocksbridge Park Steels in the table.
However, with the Blues pushing forwards in search of more goals the visitors took advantage of the gaps in the Blues’ defence to score two late consolation goals.
After a nervy opening in which Stafford went close on a couple of occasions the Blues started to settle and opened the scoring after 22 minutes. James Ashmore’s free-kick was punched clear by Stafford ‘keeper Danny Read and when the ball came back to Ashmore he picked out Stuart Ludlam on the left of the box who controlled the ball well before guiding the ball into the top right hand corner of the net.
Ashmore was involved again three minutes later when his left wing corner was headed in by Danny South to double the Blues’ lead.
Frickley’s joy turned to elation four minutes later as Read could only push South’s cross from the left into the path of Brad Grayson who slammed the ball home from 8 yards. With news that Chasetown were losing at Burscough thought were now could the Blues score three more and Stocksbridge lose to Kendal to enable the Blues to finish out of the relegation places.
Rangers were given a lifeline on 42 minutes when Sean Kinsella fired in a free-kick from almost 35 yards which seemed to deceive Stephen Dickinson.
By half time Blues’ fans were becoming nervous again as news filtered through that Burscough and Chasetown were now level at 2-2 but Stocksbridge were losing 2-1 to Kendal. As it stood the Blues were in with an outside chance of scoring the goals required to finish fifth bottom.
Mark Gray had a header cleared off the line before South scored his second and the Blues’ fourth goal on 59 minutes. Ben Turner made a great run as he worked his way from the corner flag into the box and had a shot from a tight angle blocked by Read’s legs and South slammed in the rebound.
Grayson did brilliantly to beat his man on the edge of the box before firing wide from 15 yards and then the same player went closer still as he latched onto a flick on from South but Read was off his line quickly to block at Grayson’s feet.
At the other end Alan Nagington cut in from the right and fired an 18 yard shot into the side netting whilst Cecil Nyoni had an 18 yard shot straight at Read for the Blues.
A quick break down the Stafford left by Robert Stevenson in the 90th minute saw him cut into the box and then see his cross deflect into the net off Mark Gray.
Gray went close to making amends twice in quick succession as the Blues immediately forced a corner. Turner’s flag kick was met by Gray at the far post and his looping header was headed off the line and then when the ball came back into the box Read blocked Gray’s 12 yard shot with his legs.
However, another quick break down the left saw Stevenson ride a challenge on the edge of the box before firing a shot past Dickinson to reduce their arrears to one.
In the end Burscough and Chasetown drew 4-4 and Stocksbridge lost 3-1, meaning the Blues would have needed to have won by 4 goals to move out of the relegation places.
Now its all eyes on Northwich Victoria's appeal to the FA against their expulsion from the League to see if the Blues may receive a reprieve from relegation.
Frickley Athletic : Stephen Dickinson, Kelvin Bleau, Ben Turner, Cecil Nyoni, Mark Gray, Stuart Ludlam, Grant Darley, James Ashmore, Danny South, Brad Grayson, Ryan Mallon. Unused subs. David Cyrus, Danny Walsh, Matt Semley, Liam Schofield, Jon Hood.
Stafford Rangers : Danny Read, Paul Donnelly, Ryan Brown, Alex Hedley, Ryan Dicker, Michael Carr, Peter Heler (Chris Morris 45), Glyn Blackhurst, Matthew Jukes (Alan Nagington 71), Sean Kinsella, Kevin Street (Robert Stevenson 45). Unused sub. Dan Skelton
Referee : M. Walsh
Attendance : 341