Frickley Athletic 2
Kendal Town 1
Evo-Stik Premier Division
KENDAL Town were desperately unlucky not to come away with anything from this game as Frickley Athletic came from a goal down to beat the Black and Whites 2-1.
The away side looked a threat from the get-go when Mike Rushton shot over the bar in the second minute after full back Danny McGahon played the pass into him, while a minute later communication between Rushton and Maison McGeechan was needed when they both went for the same ball after a great cross from Carlisle United loanee Alex Salmon.
A minute later and Rushton was just a matter of inches from converting a cross by McGeechan, who beat his full backs all day with his pacy runs.
The problem position of left back was filled by debutant Jamie Hastings, who signed from Ambleside United, but he was forced off after just eight minutes with a calf injury, which meant Tom Berwick deputised at full back.
Kendal were playing lovely football despite a muddy and bobbly pitch which was only passed fit after two inspections, and McGeechan forced a good low save from Frickley shot-stopper Tom Woodhead when he attempted a 30-yarder after some intricate passing from Town.
Frickley didn't have a sniff of goal until the 18th minute, when skipper Matty Bloor headed over from a Jimmy Ghaichem cross.
Kevin Brown made his debut at centre back for Kendal having signed from Bamber Bridge yesterday (Friday), with Martin Grundy pushed up into defensive midfield, and the move worked perfectly as Grundy added some fire to the midfield, while Brown was supreme at the back, winning header after header.
It was a crucial deflection by Brown that denied Gavin Allott after the ball fell to him from a half-cleared Ghaichem cross deep inside the box and it was after that attack that Town took the lead.
Kendal captain Craig Dootson played a quick throw to Berwick, whose long ball totally caught Frickley full back Terry Barwick off guard. McGeechan was onto it like a flash and he found himself one-on-one with Woodhead, finishing with aplomb to the keeper's left to give the Black and Whites a much-deserved lead on 28 minutes.
Frickley's Allott had a header which failed to hit the target a couple of minutes later but Kendal's advantage was to be short-lived as the Westfield Lane side equalised in the 33rd minute.
Dootson was adjudged to have fouled Allott in the air and referee Tom Bramall gave a penalty to the fury of Kendal boss Steve Edmondson. Allott picked himself up and tucked the ball beyond the Mintcakes' skipper to draw his side level.
Kendal refused to let the goal get them down though and in the 36rd minute an effort from Zach Clark seemed to defy the laws of physics. Deep in the box, he hit the left hand post with a placed shot and somehow the ball rolled along the line and went out of play on the other side of the right hand post.
The second half proved to be a battle royale as the heavy pitch began to take its toil on both sets of tiring players, but Athletic began the period after the interval in the ascendancy, Brown making a couple of clearances near his own box.
Chris Howarth dragged his effort wide for the home side and Clark shot over for Kendal but there were no real chances until Frickley's goal came in the 66th minute.
A long ball from the goalkeeper evaded Kendal's defenders, leaving Allott with a glorious chance from 15 yards. Dootson made a brilliant one-handed stop, but the Black and Whites were back-pedalling as Allott had another effort blocked by the Town back line.
However, Jake Picton had arrived in the area by this time and with the ball falling to him, he curled the ball into the back of the net beautifully to put his side's noses in front.
Patrice Liburd missed a header and Allott a volley from the same long ball immediately after the goal as Kendal looked to re-group.
"Park the bus" came the shout from the Frickley management as the home side looked to protect their lead, and the home side failed to have another chance in the game.
But the visitors were looking fatigued as they searched for an equaliser and their best chance of the half didn't come until the 78th minute, when Salmon showed great trickery with his feet to get around his markers. He unleashed a left-footed shot which Woodhead did well to save.
With all Frickley's players behind the ball, Grundy had a couple of chances with headers from corners in the 82nd and 92nd minutes, while Clark slipped in the box as he tried to cross for his attackers with a couple of minutes to go.
But Kendal's late efforts were to no avail, and the Mintcakes can feel hard-done-by to return to Cumbria with no points to show for their efforts.
Woodhead, Barwick, Jeffs, Picton, Liburd, Stimpson, Howarth, Bloor (c), Hinsley (Yates 56), Allott, Ghaichem
Subs not used: Wood, Danville, Stratford, Levers
Yellow cards: None
Craig Dootson (c), Danny McGahan, Jamie Hastings, Ben Fishwick, Dean Overson, Kevin Brown, Martin Grundy, Maison McGeechan, Mike Rushton, Alex Salmon, Zach Clark
Substitutes: Tom Berwick for Hastings (8), Simon Rawnsley for Rushton (75), Max Rothwell for McGeechan (75)
Subs not used: Liam Shields, Jack Cook
Yellow cards: None
Key man: Kevin Brown: Added some much-needed steel to Kendal Town's defence and won almost every ball that was thrown his way in an impressive debut for the Black and Whites.