Clee travelled to South Yorkshire to face Frickley Athletic in the 1st Round of the Integro Cup. After the excellent win at Belper Town at the weekend, the Owls were hoping to build on the foundations of that performance.
However, with an important FA Cup date at the weekend, there were unsurprisingly several changes. Dave Smith and Matty Powell were in charge of team affairs and selected as follows:
Goal: Dylan Parkin
Defence: Paul Walker, Mark Gray, Oli Donald, Laurence McKay
Midfield: Ben Sibbick, Jack Richardson, Lewis Collins, Jonathan Oglesby (captain)
Attack: Lawrence Burchell, Luke Aldrich
Subs: Connor Southern, Mitchell Taylor, Jack Steel
The visitors enjoyed the advantage of the slope & the wind in the first 45 and dominated the early play with some impressive passing football. Richardson and Oglesby were really catching the eye, with also young Sibbick demonstrating good pace out wide.
Against the run of play, Frickley took the lead in the 13th minute and, not for the first time this campaign, the Owls were the architects of their own downfall. Donald’s attempted back-pass fell well short of Parkin and James Morris pounced to give the hosts an edge.
This setback failed to alter the Owls’ determination and they deservedly equalised 10 minutes later. A cross by Oglesby, after he had bamboozled his marker with clever work on the right wing, was met on the edge of the 6-yard box by a firm nod from Jack Richardson into the corner of the net.
As the half wore on, play became more even and it was to be Athletic who gained a 2-goal cushion before the interval. Unfortunately, once more, both strikes were not ones that the Owls’ defence would want to look back on.
On 33 minutes, a ball across the face of the area after a nice move was cleared by Walker. Perhaps conceding a corner would have been a better option but, very unluckily, it cannoned into Alistair Smith and ricocheted in.
After Aldrich had forced a low save form the home stopper, Frickley’s third followed two minutes before half-time. To the naked eye (and video replays), it appeared that Donald got the decisive touch to a ball back to Parkin, who had suffered an injury in earlier action, which bobbled over the arm of the incapacitated keeper. However, the Press Association subsequently credited Morris with his second of the evening.
HT Frickley Athletic 3 (Morris 13, 43, Smith 33) Cleethorpes Town 1 (Richardson 23)
Dylan Parkin failed to appear for the second period and Oli Donald, who was having an eventful night, donned the gloves. Southern also came on to replace Burchell, who had displayed some promising touches.
Rather than feeling sorry for themselves that events were not going their way, the Owls struck back immediately after the re-start. Delightful vision by captain Oglesby found a clever late run through the inside-right channel by Luke Aldrich. The striker did not hesitate and finished really well first time across the keeper.
Clee were giving it a right go and, for the next 15 minutes, they surged forward in an attempt to both find the equaliser and protect their makeshift stopper. Taylor, who incredibly has played at every level for the Owls from under 7s upwards, was introduced for his senior debut at the expense of the hardworking Richardson.
However, two more goals in close succession gave Frickley what looked to be an unassailable advantage. Firstly, after 65 minutes, Akeem Hinds bundled home after Donald could not hold a header. Then, Smith fired into the corner from 20 yards.
Absolutely no blame could be attached to the Owls’ stand-in between the sticks. Donald was showing tremendous fortitude in an adverse situation and made two saves that any regular No.1 would have been proud of.
A heavy beating looked as though it could now have been on the cards but, finding inner strength, the Owls not only dominated the final 20 minutes but very nearly against the odds pulled off the comeback.
Caution was thrown to the wind, and it was Luke Aldrich who headed in for his brace after 75 minutes. Once again, this was after an inviting cross by Oglesby, who was leading by example. Wave after wave of pressure followed and the hardy travelling fans were further rewarded with 7 to play.
Full-back Walker surged down the wing and his 30-yard run was ended by a clumsy challenge in the box. An easy decision for the referee and up stepped Luke Aldrich. If he had any nerves as his first senior hat-trick loomed, the man-of-the-match did not display it. His powerful penalty was thrashed into the top corner of the net.
Frickley were now rocking, as the visitors demonstrated both their full range of attacking know-how and fantastic team spirit. Apart from a couple of scrambles though, the deserved fifth would not come. Although defeated at the final whistle, all connected with the Owls could head into the rainy night feeling a sense of pride.
FT Frickley Athletic 5 (Morris 13, 43, Smith 33, 72, Hinds 65) Cleethorpes Town 4 (Richardson 23, Aldrich 46, 75, 83 pen) Attendance: 107
Despite defeat, a night to be proud to be an Owl!
Not much went right but there were some strong performances. Paul Walker, Jack Richardson, Jon Oglesby and, of course, Luke Aldrich all acquitted themselves with credit. Nice touches too by some of the “reserves”.
What an evening too for Oli Donald! Understandably rusty after a 3-game ban, he would not have expected to play 45 minutes in goal – all I can say is “well done”. Let’s hope the injury to Dylan Parkin is not too serious, we should know more in the next couple of days.
Next up is the small matter of the FA Cup at New Linden this weekend against higher-ranked Bamber Bridge. Come down to cheer the lads on – after last night, they definitely deserve your support.
FA Cup – 2nd Qualifying Round
Bamber Bridge (home)
Saturday 22nd September – 3pm (if level after 90 minutes, replay on Tuesday 25th September – 7.45pm)
Adults £8, Concessions (over 65s and 16-18) £4, Under 16s £2
UP THE OWLS!