BLYTH Spartans FC were made to pay the penalty for an under par performance as they came away from West Yorkshire empty handed following defeat away at Frickley Athletic.
Paddy Atkinson’s side missed some golden chances to take at least a point, none were better than when Phil Airey became the fourth Spartans player in a row to miss a penalty, as he saw his second half spot kick saved by Athletic keeper Jamie Green.
It was Spartans who had the first chance when Airey broke forward from the left back position and fed the ball to the inside left channel finding Andy Jennings.
The former Billingham Synthonia striker hit a cross shot that dribbled past the far post and harmlessly wide.
The home side should have taken the lead on the tenth minute as the danger man Ghaicham played a delightful through ball that found Jake Picton one on one with Conor Grant, but the Spartans number one saved well down at his near post.
But there would be no reprieve for Spartans just after the quarter hour mark as Athletic took the lead in somewhat controversial circumstances.
They were awarded a debatable penalty as Joe Kendrick was judged to have fouled Gavin Allott although there seemed to be minimal contact.
Allott took the spot kick himself and struck the ball low down past Conor Grant’s left side.
Spartans came within a whisker of an equaliser when Robbie Dale knocked an Airey cross into the path of Ryan McGorrigan but the striker curled a left footed effort just wide of the far post.
Just after the half hour mark Spartans did get their equaliser and it came from the craft of Dale, who was a constant thorn in the side of the hosts’ defence.
He turned his marker inside out before floating a lovely ball to the far post that found the head of Kendrick and the Irishman headed past Green and in off the far post.
Dale was again at the heart of all that was good about Spartans, minutes before half time he hit a screamer from the angle, but that was tipped over by Green.
Just before the interval Athletic took the lead and it was Allott again, although there was a lack of concentration and communication that cost Atkinson’s side.
Picton looped a ball into the Spartans box from a clearance and found Allott unmarked but crucially onside and the forward’s effort bobbled past Grant to send his side into half time a goal to the good.
It took until the hour mark for Spartans to mount any kind of chance to equalise and it was a chance that they really should have taken when Dale found the unmarked McGorrigan eight yards out but the normally lethal striker shot tamely at goal and Green made a comfortable save.
Spartans were dominating possession in the second period but chances were few and far between and the home side always looked dangerous on the break.
Twenty minutes from time Spartans were handed the chance to equalise from the penalty spot as a Dale cross aimed at Jennings saw the striker manhandled by Liburd and a spot kick awarded.
Phil Airey stepped up and became the latest Spartans player to miss a post kick as his effort was saved low down to Green’s left and the home side were let off the hook.
As Spartans tried to look for an equaliser the home side came close to getting a third that would have settled the game as Ghaicham beat Phil Airey and crashed a shot across the face of goal although Grant probably had his angles covered. With the clock ticking down Spartans became more desperate for an equaliser and created two excellent chances and it was no surprise that once again Dale was at the heart of them.
His eighty fifth minute cross found the head of Dan Maguire and the striker could only flick a header past the far post and then in injury time Dale looped a header just past the far post and that miss ensured that it would be Athletic that took all three points.