Sat 11. 9.10 Frickley Athletic 3 – Kendal Town 2
Location: Westfield Lane, South Elmsall, Pontefract, West Yorks, WF9 2EQ
Competition: FA Cup, First Qualifying Round
Attendance: 185 (with around 40 from Kendall)
Admission: £8 (General admission)
Programme: £1.50 (48 pages / 26 of adverts)
Directions: By public transport, take the train to South Elmsall (on the Doncaster-Leeds line), then go up the steps to the road bridge exit, turn left and after going around 30 yards down the hill you get to a road junction. Bear right here, and then first left down Westfield Lane. The ground is about 5 mins walk down Westfield Lane, on the left hand side just after a small row of shops which currently includes a bookmakers.
By road, Westfield Lane is just off the B6422, almost opposite South Elmsall bus station. If coming from further afield, then take the A1 / A638 / B6474 combination first.
Off The Pitch: Westfield Lane boasts one of the largest Main Stands at this level, having been built in the 1920s by striking local miners (who until the 1980s also paid a weekly levy to the club). The rest of the ground has been scaled down somewhat in recent years (current capacity is a little over 2,000), to reflect Frickley’s drop from the Conference to the third tier of non-league, and less need to accommodate large crowds. This means that the banks behind each goal have been halved in size, but could always be developed again should the need arise. Opposite the main stand is a covered terrace along the entire side of the pitch, giving the ground a compact and homely atmosphere these days. A club shop has a selection of programmes and merchandise, as well as the obligatory tea bar and clubhouse being present. Its exposed location can also mean even a brass monkey needs thermals for a night game, but overall it’s a ground I always find enjoyable to visit.
On The Pitch: The magic of the FA Cup… (or at the very least, the slight of hand of the preliminary rounds).
This match drew two teams from the Evo-Stik (ie NPL) Premier Division against each other. Kendal came into the game eighth in the table and in form, while Frickley were without a win so far this season and third from bottom. No surprise then that Kendal looked the more confident and assured team in the opening period of the game, though it was Frickley who opened the tie up by taking the lead, after a penalty was given for handball and despatched by the irrepressible Lee Morris. This set the pattern for what followed, as Kendal were now forced to attack – though their equaliser around 10 minutes later was somewhat fortunate. Centre forward Lee Mulvaney put pressure on Frickley goalkeeper Adam Nicklin when making a clearance, and the ball cannoned of Mulvaney, looped over the Nicklin’s head and dropped just under the bar for 1-1. The score remained like that at half-time, with Danny Clarke having impressed most for Frickley at this stage.
The second half saw Frickley playing towards their favoured end with a slight downhill advantage, though a period of dominance saw them miss a couple of really good, clear-cut chances to move in front. Then Kendal broke down the other end and took the lead again, thanks to a deflected shot by Gary Stopforth. To be honest, I would have put Kendal as favourites to hold out from here on in, as the Frickley side were noticeably frustrated at having seen their chance to get the upper hand in the match slip past. With around 20 mins to go, Frickley manager Billy Heath made a couple of substitutions, bringing on Adam Lee and Jonathan Groome, which seemed to change the game though. It gave them more physical presence, an ability to impose on the game more, and an improved positional awareness of each other.
Meanwhile, Chapman was having a very good second half in defence, linking up well with Leon Henry, who made some good runs down the left flank. With Lee Morris also frequently winning and holding up the ball well on the edge of the box, in the end the pressure told. Two goals in quick succession from well-worked moves, with close finishes courtesy of Clarke and Walsh, and Frickley had victory in sight. Kendal rallied with a couple of corners, and their goalkeeper spent most of the final 5 minutes in the Frickley half, but Frickley managed to hold out for the final whistle, and record a deserved and hard-fought victory.
I think ultimately the home advantage played a part – though credit to the Frickley side when 2-1 down for not letting their heads drop, considering their shaky recent form. As one young lad not long out of short trousers remarked to his mate behind the goal – “I reckon this must be the best game ever!”