Hednesford Town fell to a surprising defeat against Frickley Athletic as The Pitmen chased a winner to move them to the top of the Evo-Stik Northern Premier Division, only to be caught on the counter attack by an 80th minute Gavin Allott goal which secured victory for the home side.
Rob Smith, rightly so at the time, went 4-3-3 with 19 minutes remaining, the score at 1-1 and his team in the ascendency, but a superb run and finish by Allott, as he powered inside past John Disney and rifled a shot into the corner, dashed Hednesford’s hopes of top spot.
A poor opening half hour from both sides failed to spark the game into action with Allott coming closest for the home side as he chipped the ball over Dan Crane but saw his attempt roll wide on 14 minutes.
The early deadlock was broken on 29 minutes when Luke Hinsley cut inside from the left and hit a shot which was clearly going wide only to take a wicked deflection off Ben Bailey and leave Dan Crane rooted to the spot.
The goal seemed to spark Hednesford into life and a measured cross by Elliott Durrell to the back post found Aaron Rey in space but the striker leant back and lashed his shot over the bar on 36 minutes.
The equaliser came two minutes later, but Frickley goalkeeper Tom Woodhead certainly won’t want to see a replay of the goal as he totally misjudged the flight of Durrell’s cross and let the ball meekly slip through his hands.
The Pitmen came out in the second half with renewed purpose and had the ball in the net just after the hour mark when Rey turned superbly and curled a shot over Woodhead which rebounded off the post and into the path of Sean O’Connor. Hednesford’s hardy band of supporters behind the goal celebrated only for the striker to be flagged off side after Dave MacPherson had bundled the ball into the net.
Allott headed over the bar for the home side when he should have at least hit the target on 63 minutes and two minutes later Rey chose to blast his shot rather than place it and Woodhead stood firm as the game swung from end to end.
Smith’s attacking substitution showed a real intent to win the match from the away side but Allott settled the contest with 10 minutes to go and Hednesford’s frustrating afternoon was further compounded when Crane advanced out of his goal and, as the last man, felled Allott and saw red.
With leaders North Ferriby falling to a second defeat in three matches against Buxton, The Pitmen will see the match as a missed opportunity but still lurk only a point behind as Christmas approaches.
Woodhead, Barwick, Jeffs, Picton, Liburd, Stimpson, Howarth, Bloor (c), Hinsley (29), Allott (80), Yates
Subs Not Used
Wood, Bleau, Alali, Davies, Levers
Crane, Disney (Hornby 86), Craven, Bailey, Francis, MacPherson (Melbourne 71), Osborne, Durrell (38), O’Connor, Rey, Woolfe (Harvey 71),
Subs Not Used
Bookings – Barwick
Sent Off – Crane
Entertainment Rating – 3 Stars
Star Man – Gavin Allott
Attendance – 201