Frickley Athletic 2 Stourbridge 1
The Glassboys fell to two late penalties at Westfield Lane after Karl Hawley had put them ahead with just fifteen minutes to play.
Hawley’s goal looked as though it was going to be enough to ensure there would be no last day drama for Stourbridge, with a win being sufficient to seal a play-off place, but it all went wrong in the dying minutes as the home side took advantage of some nervy defending to turn the game around.
There was one change in the team that had started against Whitby Town last Saturday, with Tom Tonks coming in for George Bowerman, who had to make do with a place on the bench.
For much of the first half there was little between the teams, with chances in short supply at either end. It was eleven minutes before Dan Scarr had the first real effort on goal, his header going well over, before Matt Gould was forced into a low save at the other end a few minutes later, but those moments aside there was little of note in the early stages to entertain the crowd.
Justin Richards’ shot on the turn on 20 minutes lacked any venom and was dealt with easily by Seb Malkowski in the home goal, and Tom Tonks saw his low cross elude everybody with 27 minutes played, whilst Hawley worked an opening before shooting over shortly before the interval, but the game lacked any real spark as both teams appeared to be feeling the effects of nearing the end of a long campaign.
The game began to open up after the break, though, and openings started to materialise. Jameel Ible headed wide from a free kick for Frickley soon after the restart, whilst at the other end Bowerman, on at half time in place of Richards, was unable to keep his shot on target from Hawley’s ball in. Chris Lait then headed a good chance over from Tonks’s cross on 56 minutes, before curling a shot wide of the post as the Glassboys looked to increase the pressure in search of an opening goal.
Almost immediately, Malkowski was called into action to grasp a shot from Sean Geddes at the second attempt, but Frickley showed that it was not all one-way traffic as Yom Davie got away down the right before steering his shot wide of the far post from a good position.
Stour responded with Lait finding himself in the clear, only for an unkind bounce to allow Malkowski to claim, but the goal that was threatening to arrive finally did so with fifteen minutes left to play. A corner from Geddes found Leon Broadhurst at the far post, and his downward header gave Hawley the chance to swivel and plant his shot beyond the helpless Malkowski.
The Glassboys continued to press, looking for a second goal that never came to extinguish any threat of a comeback/ However, there was to be a double sting in the tail of the game, as first good work by Tom Davie allowed Jacob Hazel to drive into the area where he tangled with Lait. Initially, referee Dean Watson saw nothing in the challenge but the raised flag of his assistant persuaded him into a re-think, and eventually a penalty was awarded, from which Hazel fired low to Gould’s left to level things up.
Caught between holding on to a point that would have left them still with a chance of third place, and the coveted home play-off semi-final, but not quite guarantee a play-off place, or going for the win, the Glassboys found themselves on the end of a sucker punch two minutes into stoppage time. There seemed little debate about the penalty this time around, with Tom Davie impeded after a driving run down the right, and with Hazel having been substituted it was again the fouled player who took responsibility as Davie tucked his spot kick into the opposite corner from Hazel’s.
The result, and the manner of it, was the last thing the Glassboys needed, and it will take some spirit now for the team to lift itself for a crucial game on Saturday. However, it would not be the first time this season that Stourbridge have produced something special on a big occasion.