2013/14: Pre-season friendly – Garforth Town v Farsley AFC
If the opening pre-season game against Carlisle United was all about a ‘new start’ for Garforth Town and a celebration of that fact, then the remaining friendlies to come, starting with the Farsley fixture would be a real indicator of what was in store for The Miners as they prepare for life in the Baris Northern Counties East League (NCEL).
Of course there was a great ‘feel-good’ factor from the Carlisle game where on a sunny evening, with a crowd of over 200, a 6-0 defeat was met with hearty applause at the plucky efforts of a Garforth team who had trained only twice together. However, the reality is that there are weeks and months ahead this season in which there will undoubtedly be ‘highs and lows’ as the club finds its feet, on and off the pitch. Patience is not a virtue you often associate with football, but for Garforth it is vital this season. Fans have supported the club in a take up of season tickets that was better than the club had budgeted for and Premier Waste Recycling have come on board as a sponsor; indicative of the desire to create a stable and well run club with a future.
However, the progress behind the scenes has to be replicated in terms of the playing squad, but with a limited period of preparation for manager Graham Nicholas this is no easy task. For the Farsley fixture the Garforth squad was pretty much the same as that for the Carlisle game, with the exception of Paul Hagreen, Ben Sampayo, Liam Royles, Bobby Devine, Craig Tomkinson and Dougy Stevenson who were replaced by Senio Bubacar Cadsama Conte, Marko Baldelli, Connor Bower, Josh Hemingham and Brandon Dube.
From the kick-off Farsley dominated the play, with Lee Ellington and Aiden Savory prominent up front for The Villagers. Ellington had an early chance from a Steve Mallory cross, but his contact wasn’t clean and it was an easy gather for Garforth keeper Smith. The other outstanding chance fell to Savory, who was found easily by a long ball with his resulting cross-shot hitting the post. As the half progressed, the Evo-Stik North team continued to create scoring opportunities, with Ellington putting a chance in the side-netting after rounding the keeper and later he turned provider for striking partner Savory; but with a resulting header that went wide. Then out of the blue, from a rare Garforth attack, a poor Farsley clearance the ball came to Connor Bower who sent a wonder volley from his left foot which sailed over Tom Morgan to give Garforth a lead on twenty nine minutes. The visitors though didn’t panic and continued to press and Savory’s turn and shot was tipped over by Dominic Smith. From the resulting corner James Riley bravely headed home from just inside the penalty box under a challenge from Senio Bubacar Cadsama Conte on thirty six minutes to level the match at 1-1.
In the second-half and Garforth were looking increasingly vulnerable to the long-ball over the top and also through the middle of the defence. Therefore it was no surprise when on fifty six minutes from a punt forward and despite the presence of four Garforth defenders, Ellington was able to stab home to give Farsley a 2-1 lead. The Miners were becoming more and more ragged at the back as Ellington was left unmarked on two occasions, but both headers went wide. However, the Farsley number nine did grab his second and the visitors third goal with ten minutes to go, when he converted a penalty after a clumsy challenge on Robbie O’Brien. From the kick-off Farsley nearly scored again, when Jarrod Smalley went through on goal, but Smith make a good save to deny the substitute. Indeed it was a busy last period for the Garforth keeper as he was left exposed again as he saved at the feet of Savory in another one-on-one situation. In truth Farsley should have won the game by more than the 3-1 margin and it showed that there is much to do in the remaining friendlies by Town manager Nicholas. He will have been particularly concerned by the defensive display of his team and by the fact that his players too easily gave possession away. However, this is a young group of players with little playing time together. Unfortunately, time is the one thing the players and manager don’t have as the league season is only two weeks away and they will have to learn quickly the lessons of the games to date and be prepared for the battles that the NCEL will unquestionably present.