Last gasp agony as Watts sees red after 8 seconds
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.
Harry Blackburn levels for Skem at Frickley and (inset) preparing to take a free kick