Last gasp agony as Watts sees red af­ter 8 sec­onds

Southport Visiter - - Visiter Life - FRICKLEY ATH­LETIC SKELMERSDALE UNITED 3 2

TOMMY Law­son’s youth­ful team bravely fought back from 2-0 down for the sec­ond time in two games but this time suf­fered the heart­break of con­ced­ing a win­ner three min­utes into added time.

This af­ter metaphor­i­cally play­ing with one arm tied be­hind their backs as they played more than 90 min­utes with ten men af­ter Jack Watts was dis­missed for an eighth sec­ond foul.

If Skelmersdale could have made a worse start at West­field Lane it is de­bate­able how that fate could have been achieved.

From the kick-off the ball went down the right to Jack Watts, he took a poor touch and the ball ran to Frickley’s Jack Wa­ters, Watts dived in to chal­lenge and bed­lam broke out.

Watts is a slightly built teenager and he was then set upon by what seemed like the en­tire Frickley team and at the same time ref­eree Barry Lamb if he had a dif­fer­ent opin­ion was ha­rassed into send­ing Watts off, it was a def­i­nite case of bul­ly­ing by the Frickley team oth­ers might use the word “games­man­ship.”

In hind­sight it was an over en­thu­si­as­tic chal­lenge by an in­ex­pe­ri­enced teenager with no ma­li­cious in­tent, Watts un­der the guid­ance of the laws of the game he should have been sent off, he will learn from his action but it is for­giv­able.

But the re­ac­tion and be­hav­iour of the Frickley play­ers im­me­di­ately af­ter­wards was noth­ing short of dis­grace­ful.

The first-half was a close scrappy af­fair, the new Skelmersdale side work very hard and al­low their op­po­nents no time at all on the ball, but they also have that added kick that they are very quick up front.

De­spite hav­ing only ten men Skelmersdale had their fair share of pos­ses­sion.

In the eleventh minute Skelmersdale’s debu­tant goal­keeper Chris Cheetham made a good near-post save from Frickley’s Luke Mang­ham, but seven min­utes later at the other end Phil Mooney headed wide from a Luke Mo­ran free-kick.

In the 29th minute Frickley had what was prob­a­bly their best chance of the game, num­ber nine Curtly Martin-Wy­att clev­erly evaded two tack­les, then one on one with Cheetham his shot was weak and went wide of the goal.

The game lev­elled out again for a while but livened up in the five min­utes be­fore the break and ar­guably the best player on the field, Frickley num­ber 2 Gary Stohrer, was in­volved in both moves.

First he put in a shot from 25 yards that Skem keeper Cheetham grasped firmly to his chest, the sec­ond his free-kick that Martin-Wy­att headed wide.

Six min­utes into the sec­ond-half Skelmersdale coun­ter­at­tacked quickly, Harry Black­burn ran half the length of the pitch with a posse of Frickley play­ers af­ter him, he held off two chal­lenges but his shot went frac­tions wide of the post when he was faced one on one by home goal­keeper Se­bas­tian Malkowski.

Frickley grabbed the lead on 62 min­utes and it was a bit of route one and an in­spired run that brought it about. Malkowski punted the ball long, it was headed on and Stohrer ran onto the ball and lifted it into the Skem net.

It was a tremen­dous fin­ish, but the question has to be asked, why was Stohrer who was play­ing right full­back/mid­field in such an ad­vanced po­si­tion? It may have been a prac­tised move, if it was, its in­sti­ga­tor de­serves credit.

Eight min­utes later a free-lick wasn’t cleared prop­erly, the ball dropped and Mang­ham from close range he made it 2-0, game over, on pa­per yes, in re­al­ity no.

In the 85th minute Dean Shack­lock car­ried the ball for­ward and laid into the path of Black­burn, the 17-yearold Ac­cring­ton loa­nee beat a de­fender on the edge of the Frickley penalty area then cut the ball back into the net.

A lit­tle over a minute later Skem won a free-kick, it was lobbed into the box, Black­burn saw his shot saved by Malkowski then seiz­ing on the re­bound he steered the equaliser home.

Frickley were a shocked and very em­bar­rassed ten play­ers, mainly kids had fought their way back and de­served it.

The hosts at­tacked and three min­utes into in­jury time they won a cor­ner, twice Skelmersdale de­fend­ers blocked shots from Frickley play­ers, the third dropped to Joe Pugh who is on loan from Don­caster, in the may­hem he found the time to slam the ball high into the net.

On Satur­day Skem are at home to the much tele­vised Stour­bridge fresh from their FA Cup ex­ploits. When Skem went to the Black Coun­try in Novem­ber Stour­bridge looked a good side, but maybe vul­ner­a­ble to pace at the back, with the spirit Skem have shown over the last cou­ple of games it could be an in­ter­est­ing en­counter.

Im­ages by John Driscoll

Harry Black­burn lev­els for Skem at Frickley and (in­set) pre­par­ing to take a free kick

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