Fryston AFC back to best in clash of title challengers

Fryston AFC's Mikey McNamara, on target against North Featherstone.
Fryston AFC's Mikey McNamara, on target against North Featherstone.

FOLLOWING two successive defeats, Fryston AFC were determined to make sure it was not going to be a hat-trick as they produced a much improved display to beat previously unbeaten North Featherstone 3-1 at home in the Premier Division of the Castleford Sunday League.

They were up against a side that had put five past them the previous week, but there was to be no repeat and although Featherstone were perhaps the more prominent in the early exchanges the home side were working hard to keep them at bay, despite the wind making it difficult to clear their lines.

Fryston had made a couple of positional changes within the side with Paul Taylor moving to midfield and Karl Rayne coming into the back-three to replace him. Another change saw Mikey McNamara moved out to the right so that Liam Cooper could partner James Lister up front, with Adam Blackwell playing just behind them to give the team a potent attacking threat.

But it was the defensive side of the team that was to the fore during the first half-hour or so, as it was called-upon to thwart a number of attacks that came about from possession being given away cheaply or the conceding of some silly free-kicks. Fortunately Fryston could rely on their back-three of Rayne, skipper Andy Blackwell and the presence of Andy Burrow as sweeper to keep out North Fev with Mark Edwards in goal continuing his good form.

Featherstone seemed to get a little frustrated as the half went on and in the last 15 minutes Fryston produced two moments of class that turned the match in their favour.

First, a nice move down the right resulted in them winning a corner. McNamara swung-over a pinpoint cross for Adam Blackwell to rise unopposed and head home the opening goal.

Then, as North Featherstone looked deflated, the Colliers produced another attack, again down the right-hand side, which ended with Adam Blackwell this time becoming provider with an inviting cross for Cooper to nod in from six yards.

It was two killer blows and coming just before half-time, they gave Fryston the confidence to take all three points, especially with the advantage of having the wind in their favour in the second half.

At the start of the second period, the home side began to pile on the pressure, but Fryston were maybe guilty of rushing the final ball or missing the final touch to increase their lead, but with Taylor and midfield partner Lee Hudson now becoming more of an influence, the chances kept coming and it was only a matter-of-time before the next goal came.

Adam Blackwell had a 30-yard drive kept out by a smart save from Fev keeper, Chris Appleyard, but the striker then had to be replaced, after running himself to a standstill. Adam Clough came on and the sub was to make a quick impact.

A good passing move down the left, started by the impressive Al Berry and continued by Hudson and Taylor, saw Clough pick the ball up and his left-footed cross into the box was superbly volleyed home by McNamara, showing outstanding make it 3-0 and virtually game over.

Fryston now seemed to relax and they also introduced new signing, Joe Ellam, a young centre-back with great potential. He replaced Rayne after the big defender tired from his efforts. This coincided with a spell of North Featherstone pressure that had the hosts back-peddling.

It was a big test for Ellam, but he stood up well to some sustained pressure on his side and showed he has the ability to fit into this talented Fryston side. Eventually though, the visitors produced their best move of the match and in-form frontman Andy Burton lost his man to get on the end of an Andy Catton centre and head in a reply.

The goal gave Fev some hope and they went looking for another. It took a big effort to deny them with Burrow influential during this spell, as was Berry, and they needed to be as Fev at last started to look threatening.

Fryston regrouped and began to compose themselves again and fashioned another couple of chances before the end. The best one was Lister’s attempted curler to the far left top corner that unluckily cannoned off the underside of the bar and bounced clear. It would have been the icing on the cake for his side after their top drawer performance.

The Jill & Andy’s Premier Store MOM went to Alex Berry after he produced an outstanding wing-back performance in which he was piling forward one minute then tracking back to break-up Featherstone attacks the next, but he was pushed hard by the efforts of Adam Blackwell and Andy Burrow and the award could have gone to any number of players as Fryston returned to their best form.