Another year, and another early exit

Worksop Town v Frickley Athletic. Tigers player Leon Mettam w120908-1l
Worksop Town v Frickley Athletic. Tigers player Leon Mettam w120908-1l

IT all felt depressingly familiar at Sandy Lane on Friday night, as an FA Cup defeat was followed by calls for the manager’s head.

In 2010 and 2011 the club exited the world famous knockout competition at the first hurdle, and the managers at the time, Pete Rinkcavage and Martin McIntosh respectively, departed Worksop Town.

Worksop Town v Frickley Athletic. Frickley score their first goal w120908-1v

Worksop Town v Frickley Athletic. Frickley score their first goal w120908-1v

At full-time on Friday, current Tigers boss Simon Clark came under fire from supporters, after what was by his own admission an unacceptable performance.

The men in yellow were favourites going into the match, as their poor start to the season was nothing in comparison to Frickey’s, Athletic picking up just one point from their opening six league fixtures.

But an inability to put the ball in the net, and a lack of pace in the centre of the defence, cost Worksop dearly, and it was Frickley who progressed to the next round.

Just seven seconds had elapsed when Leon Mettam clattered into Glyn Cotton and gave Frickley a free-kick, earning a talking to from the referee.

Worksop Town v Frickley Athletic. Tigers player Massiah McDonald w120908-1z

Worksop Town v Frickley Athletic. Tigers player Massiah McDonald w120908-1z

Massiah McDonald had the game’s first effort, dragging a shot well wide after a lovely touch from Craig King on the left.

Tigers then had the ball in the net, Mettam crossing dangerously from the right for McDonald who missed the ball, and when King nodded back across goal Towers was offside as he fired home.

Jake Picton headed Frickley’s first effort over the bar after beating Ryan Clarke in the air from a corner.

But Clarke made amends straight away, setting Lee Beeson free with a cutting through ball, the winger getting to the byline and pulling back but McDonald was in front of the ball.

Worksop Town v Frickley Athletic. Tigers player Steve Towers w120908-2g

Worksop Town v Frickley Athletic. Tigers player Steve Towers w120908-2g

Jason Yates was unlucky to see his sliced volley clear Paul Bastock’s bar after a scrappy piece of defending from Worksop, who began fairly brightly but were still making little mistakes.

And when Stuart Ludlam and Clarke failed to react to the run of Glyn Cotton, the former Tiger was free to blast at goal, his shot fizzing just wide.

At the other end a good cross from Clarke reached Adie Hawes at the back post and the big defender nodded wide under pressure.

Frickley came agonisingly close to taking the lead on 34 minutes when another ex-Worksop man, Gavin Allott, headed powerfully at goal with no challenge in sight, and Beeson had to clear off the line.

Worksop Town v Frickley Athletic. Tigers player Adie Hawes w120908-2h

Worksop Town v Frickley Athletic. Tigers player Adie Hawes w120908-2h

The sides reached the break goalless, and the next 45 minutes were frustrating and infuriating in equal measure for the home support.

Tigers set off well, as only a fantastic last ditch tackle from Terry Barwick denied Craig King who looked to be clean through, and then Barwick caused a scrum involving both benches with a crude tackle on the same player.

The yellow card was shown to Barwick, both sides spoken to and eventually the game resumed.

Clarke showed a sharp turn to get away from his marker from a corner and got to the back post to win the header, but the ball was the wrong side of the post.

Slack play from the hosts gifted Frickley the ball and Allott tried an audacious chip from 35 yards which sailed wide of the mark with Bastock stranded.

But Worksop didn’t heed the warning, and it was 1-0 on 57 minutes.

Allott outpaced Hawes, Bastock saved the striker’s effort but despaired as Inderjeet Aulja fired the rebound into the net.

Athletic were lucky not go down to 10 men when the referee failed to see Cotton’s lung on Clarke and things went from bad to worse for Tigers on 62 minutes.

Allott hared down the right, evaded Hawes once more and blasted past Bastock for 2-0.

At this point, although the situation for Tigers looked bleak, the players appeared to wake up and realise they were in a game.

Mettam took the ball to the edge of the box, while being hauled back, and the referee let play go on but the striker couldn’t find the target.

Clark, in desperate need of a goal, made a double change with King and Beeson departing as Matt Young and Bruno Holden came on.

But their threat up front was lessened considerably a few seconds later, Mettam pulling up and limping off clutching his hamstring, left-back Sam Craven taking his place.

It was very nearly 2-1 when McDonald beat his marker and went past Frickley keeper Tom Woodhead, but David Buck made a fantastic intervention to deflect the ball wide.

The yellow came out again when Jimmy Ghaichem scythed down McDonald who had sprinted down the right, and Tigers wasted the free-kick.

With just eight minutes left 6ft 4ins centre-half Hawes moved up front with Holden, while Craven and Warlow went back into defence.

Holden took matters into his own hands, skipping out of a tackle and hammering at goal from fully 35 yards, Woodhead saving well.

He then had an effort come back off the post and put the rebound wide.

As Worksop piled on the pressure the Frickley goal lived a charmed life, McDonald’s low cross evading his team-mates and the whistle going to signal the ball out of play, just as Tigers got it in the net.

Frustration boiled over as Holden went into the back of Barwick, who made a meal of the challenge, and the Tiger was booked.

Another McDonald shot was just about held by Woodhead, and Hawes put a cross in that Towers just couldn’t reach before the final whistle was met with anger from fed up local supporters.

The magic of the FA Cup continues its vanishing act for the world’s fourth oldest football club.