Shaw Lane 3 Frickley 1
Just one game too far.....
So it wasn't the end to the season that we wanted & the players deserved better recognition for their efforts at the final whistle from the rapidly dwindling crowd - but that's life (starring Esther Rantzen & Cyril Fletcher).
Having played a large number of games in a short space of time, Frickley were further stretched by the unavailability of Jake Turner & Reece McGinley (who have returned to their parent clubs as their loan spells have expired - we wish them both well), Ishy D (who has returned home after the end of his Uni course) & Ben Algar (cup tied). This meant Stan donned the gloves & Liam Carrick started at right back & Starman Starcenko featured on the bench.
It was a very laboured & weary first half performance by the Greens & the game was pretty much over in the the 25th minute when Chilaka scored his & Shaw Lanes 3rd (his 1st came in the first minute & his 2nd on 15 minutes) & all 3 were pretty similar build ups & finishes. The (ironically) bone dry, threadbare, bumpy Athersley pitch did nothing to aid Frickleys normal running & passing game either - this is in no way a dig by the way, that pitch has had some hammer this season - from the weather & probably 50+ home matches.
Further disruption on the half hour as Liam Carrick got a smack on the head & was replaced by Jack Burton & Frickley changed to a 3 at the back. Frickleys main chances came from Darkenbauer exocets & Duggie corners.
HALF TIME - SHAW LANE 3 FRICKLEY 0
Darkenbauer wasn't able to launch many exocets in the 2nd half as he came off after 15 minutes (he looked to have pulled or twisted something) & was replaced by George Milner & later in the half Dangerous Dan Palmer replaced Duggie.
Frickley put a long high ball forward & the Shaw Lane keeper either showed the best judgement of the bounce ever or got it horribly wrong (delete as appropriate) as the ball bounced over him, hit the bar & dropped back into his hands.
It looked as though Shaw Lane were going to do what only Alvechurch have managed to do this season, keep a clean sheet against us - but then Captain Fantastic popped up in injury time & gaffered the entire defence & stuck the ball home from close range. Gav appeared to have lost the ball about 3 times but would not be denied. I think that means that we have scored in 49 consecutive games - some statto will correct me if I'm wrong. It seemed appropriate that Gavin should score the first & last goals of our campaign, he has been an excellent captain this season & has lead by example. I've never been a fan of strikers being the team captain - maybe I need to give my head a shake!
So we have lost what appear to be our 2 most important games of the season - I would counter that by saying that every game that we have played this season has been equally important. You only end up in cup semi finals & play off games by winning games, accumulating points & scoring goals....lots & lots of goals. We have won 26 league games this season - more than anyone apart from Basford - & we've scored more goals than anyone, by a wide margin. To put things into perspective, Jacob Hazel scored 47 goals this campaign (a club record) - last season we only scored 47 goals in the whole league campaign.
Some will say that we're in a lower league & things should be easier - well we weren't exactly a roaring success in the Premier League over recent seasons were we?
Season 11/12 19th 42 points 48 goals
Season 12/13 18th 39 points 58 goals
Season 13/14 21st (relegated & reprieved) 49 points 62 goals
Season 14/15 19th 50 points 60 goals
Season 15/16 (our exceptional season) 7th 77 points 69 goals
Season 16/17 22nd (relegated) 39 points 47 goals
Of course I'd prefer to be in the Premier League, that has to be our goal, but I've been delighted to watch our free flowing, free scoring performances this year. Coming to the Wezziecana (and away games) expecting to win (as opposed to praying not to get beat as in recent times) has been a revelation & I can't wait for more of the same next year.
256 through the gates at Athersley - plenty of Frickley fans & the club would like to say thank you to everyone who has turned up to support their local community club, home & away.
WEBMASTER MOTM - so it's the final one of the year & it's one last cop out! No-one really stood out on Monday but I'm giving the Glitterball to the entire squad for dragging their exhausted bodies through a final 90 minutes.
WEBMASTER MOTSeason goes to that same squad, including all the players who have featured & moved on, & of course including the management & coaching team. It's been magnificent watching them - a few downs but mostly ups all the way. Salut!
Photos, as ever, by the legend that is Onion Bag. Jerry, we salute you.