2013/14: Toolstation Northern Counties East League Premier Division – Garforth Town v Thackley
If anyone was under any illusions about the task that faces Garforth Town in the coming season, then Saturday’s result against Thackley certainly focused the mind. Yes it was only the opening fixture of a forty four game league campaign, but it proved to be a real eye-opener for the players and coaching staff of The Miners.
Manager Graham Nicholas has to be applauded for getting together a team from ‘scratch’, but it will take time before the squad settles and gels as a unit, as more players sign-on and Nicholas is able to impart his vision for how he wants Garforth to play. In the case of the Thackley fixture, The Miners were up against a side used to the rigours of the Northern Counties East League and it showed. The opening twenty minutes of the game were pretty cagey as both teams tried to play passing football when in possession without really threatening or creating a scoring opportunity. However, the visitors started to dominate and Karl Martens had to react smartly to stop an effort from Thackley’s Chris Davey, before another Davey effort went wide shortly afterwards. The pressure from The Dennyboys finally paid dividends on thirty minutes and it was the dangerous Chris Davey who made the breakthrough, firing home after a Matt Morgan cross. The last fifteen minutes of the half were all about Thackley as Martens made excellent saves from Matt Morgan, Mike Garrod and Lewis Morgan, and efforts cleared off the line. The Miners were grateful to hear the half-time whistle and lucky that they weren’t two or three goals down at the break.
However, Garforth came out fighting in the second period and nearly scored immediately as Nick Black’s long-range shot hit the post. They were level though on forty six minutes when Josh Greenhalgh headed home from a free-kick and were the team in the ascendency. Lyle wasted a chance for Town when through on goal and Thackley were struggling to get back in the game. Their frustration showed when goal scorer Davey was booked for a crude late tackle which earned him a booking and the game became a little niggly as further yellow cards for Hall and Obeyami followed. Garforth were creating chances with Nick Allen bundling an effort against the post from a free-kick and Tawanda Rupere wasting a good opportunity. It looked all up for the visitors when they were reduced to nine men for the last fifteen minutes of the game. First Davey collected a second yellow for a lounging challenge on Stoher and was followed minutes later by Matt Morgan in an off-the-ball incident involving Tawanda Rupere. Garforth sensed blood but couldn’t make the numbers advantage count. With just three minutes left, Thackley broke and Josh Eastwood collected and turned before curling home a shot despite keeper Martens getting a hand to the ball. Garforth though continued to press and despite the addition of five minutes of time added on, were unable to take advantage of the chances that feel to Greenhalgh, Lyle and Moise Misambu. At the whistle Thackley celebrated what was an incredible win for nine men.
In summarising the game for Garforth from the side-lines it appeared that the players still need a great deal of direction from manager Graham Nicholas during the ninety minutes in terms of ‘who does what’ and where players should be positioned. At the moment the team seems to lack a leader as it is apparent that on the pitch they are a quiet side and also lack a bit of bite. That is not to say that The Miners should be going out intimidating sides and kicking lumps out of them, but teams need passion and the ability to make their presence felt. Garforth have showed in the pre-season and enough against Thackley that they want to play the game the right way through possession and passing football, but they need to add some steel to that to ensure that it is not another season of struggle.