2014/15: Evo-Stik Division One North – Farsley AFC v Warrington Town

When the fixtures for the 2014/15 season were originally released, Farsley had three games in March and five in April. Now as we entered the final two months of the season, through a combination of postponements and progress in the Doodson Sport Cup, March and April would see The Villagers in action for seven fixtures in both months.

They started this busy end to the season with a home game against Warrington Town. Coming into the fixture Farsley had lost only one game in their last five league fixtures, which happened to be against their opponents today. Warrington had lost only one league fixture in 2015 against Droylsden and were unbeaten on their travels.

Given their recent form both teams were looking at continuing this in order to push for the play-off spots. With this at stake this was never going to be an open flowing game and so it proved to be.

Whilst it was blue skies over Throstle Nest, the first-half was a comparatively dull affair. Indeed what chances there were fell to the visitors. Within the opening ten minutes, Farsley keeper Tom Taylor missed a cross, but James McCarten headed over. Taylor redeemed himself on the quarter-hour though, when he did well to tip over a long-range effort from Scott Metcalfe. As the first-half neared the halfway mark, the same two players provided the next incident of note, when Taylor saved again from Metcalfe, although this time the strike on goal was from close range.

008That though was the last significant action of the first-half as Farsley struggled to get any sort of foothold in the opening forty five minutes and it was no surprise that it was 0-0 at the break.

Perhaps unexpectedly, neither side made any changes for the start of the second-half. And it was the visitors who started the better in the opening ten minutes as they dominated possession, although Warrington didn’t test Taylor in the Farsley goal.

The first substitution came on 57 minutes when the injured Warren Beattie was replaced by Stephen Tames. Just five minutes later Farsley went ahead, when after good build-up play involving Aspin and Daley, Aidan Savory superbly put in Adam Priestley, whose good first touch allowed him to slot home past Karl Wills.

Farsley buoyed by the goal at last looked to apply some pressure and were nearly gifted a second goal with twenty minutes remaining. Wire defender James McCarten and keeper Wills were simply not on the same wavelength as the central defender knocked the ball past his goalkeeper. Thankfully for the visitors the ball struck the post and was bundled away. The home side were now in the ascendency as half chances came and went for Robbie O’Brien and the hardworking Aiden Savory.

With the game entering the last ten minutes, Farsley made a substitution with Lewis Nightingale replacing Kyle Hancock. The visitors knew that a goal would salvage a draw, but instead on 83 minutes, poor defending by Warrington nearly gifted Farsley another goal. A weak back-pass put Wills under pressure and his clearance struck Savory, but luckily for the Wire keeper he was able to easily gather the rebound.

Warrington’s last throw of the dice came with a second substitution, as Ben Wharton gave way to Dean Astbury on 87 minutes. However, they couldn’t find an equaliser and Farsley won a hard-fought three points in a game best described as ugly.

With games in hand, both sides will still have play-off aspirations after today, but know that the last two months of the season will test their squad to the full.

Points in the bag or games in hand? A football conundrum that will only be answered come 25 April.

Interview with Adam Priestley (Farsley AFC and Gibraltan International)

Adam Priestley with the FA Cup © Lisa Cox

footballbookreviews (FBR): What were you like at school? Were you academic, sporting or both?

Adam Priestley (AP): I was never the most academic at school, but I never failed in class. I would say I was the ‘middle of the road’ academically. I was always really sporting. I would take part in any sporting activity I could. I think my PE teachers probably got sick of me knocking on the door asking when the next fixture for my year group was.

FBR: Did you play up front in your academy stints at York City and Leeds United?

AP: When I was at Leeds I was a midfielder, but I was so young I don’t think I really had a set position I just played wherever I was told to play. When I was at York I was a striker – very raw though, due to not having much coaching throughout my career at the age of 13.

FBR: What are your memories of playing for Sherburn White Rose?

AP: All my memories of playing with Sherburn are great memories. I still visit the club now all the time as a lot of my close friends still play for them. If I sat here and talked about all my memories we could be here an awfully long time. I only have good things to say about the club and I hope to see them succeed on all levels.

FBR: How did the move to Garforth Town come about?

AP: The move to Garforth came on the back of a really successful season for me at Sherburn. I had scored 44 goals in 42 games in all competitions and I felt it was the right time to leave Sherburn and look for a fresh challenge playing higher up the footballing pyramid. I spoke to a few clubs and they invited me down to train with them on trial. Garforth held an open trial day in Leeds which I attended and was invited back to train with the first team squad for preseason. Then after doing the whole of preseason with them the manager said he wanted to talk to me and asked me to sign and it went from there really.

FBR: What were your highlights from your time there?

AP: My own personal highlight would be scoring the goal that secured the last play-off spot on the final day of the 2011-12 season. Unfortunately we were beaten on penalties in the semi-final.

FBR: The 2011/12 season at Garforth was a terrific one for the club, but ended with that loss in the play-offs and the summer seeing turmoil at the club off the pitch. Were the players aware at any stage during that season that something was amiss?

AP: At no point did I have any idea anything was wrong off the pitch. As far as I am aware nor did any of the others players and if they did then they kept it hidden well and they shouldn’t have kept it from the other players. It was a shame really, because we had such a good side down there that had the potential to achieve a lot, but these things happen in football and you have to look forward and look for new challenges.

FBR: What is your view of artificial pitches bearing in mind the knee injury you suffered whilst at Garforth?

AP: I don’t mind artificial pitches. I think if it means less games being cancelled then they’re good for the game. In terms of injuries I feel that you’re just as likely to get injured playing on grass as you are on artificial pitches. People will have different views to myself I know that, but if you get injured in an unfortunate event that could happen anytime. I prefer playing on grass but I’m certainly not against artificial pitches being used.

FBR: How did the move to Farsley AFC come about?

AP: One of the players I played at Garforth with had moved to Farsley and when he learnt about the happenings at Garforth he contacted me. He said he was going to speak to the manager at Farsley as he was aware they were looking for a striker, so he would let them know I was interested in a move. From there I spoke to the manager and assistant manager and I chose to move there over other clubs that were interested.

FBR: 2012/13 was an incredibly successful season for you; did you consider staying at Farsley for the following season?

AP: Leaving Farsley never crossed my mind really. There had been interest from clubs higher up during the season and I chose to stay at Farsley because I was enjoying my football there. Then when the season had finished I got calls from two teams in the Conference and it was too good to turn down the chance to go on trial at those clubs. So I spoke to Farsley and told them about the interest and they said they wouldn’t tell me to turn down a great opportunity, but they would have to look for other players to replace me in case I didn’t return. Things didn’t work out on those trials and then I went to Guiseley AFC on trial and the manager told me he wanted to sign me so I signed. I didn’t expect to leave Farsley, but due to offers from clubs higher up I chose to leave as I wanted to progress in my career.

FBR: How do you reflect on your time at Guiseley? Was it a case of ‘wrong place, wrong time’?

AP: You could say it was ‘wrong place wrong time’ with the manager being under a lot of pressure to achieve similar to what he had done previously. However, I also know that in my time there I didn’t perform up to the standard needed and the standards I expected of myself. For the manager to get sacked after six games made things tougher, because it meant a new manager who will have wanted to bring in his own players.

FBR: Do you have any regrets about moving there?

AP: I wouldn’t say I regret going to Guiseley, because I feel I learnt a lot about football and a lot about myself in my short time there. Nevertheless you have to live with the decisions you make and for me it turned out to be a bad decision that I had to learn from.

FBR: Was it an easy decision to return to Farsley?

AP: After speaking to the new manager at Guiseley he told me I was in his plans, but he could guarantee me sufficient game time so I told him I would like to leave the club. He told me that he could help me find a club if I wanted his help, but I knew that the only place I wanted to go was back to Farsley so I made the call to find myself a club. I spoke to the manager and assistant manager and within no time at all I was a Farsley player again. I had calls from other clubs higher up, but I knew where I wanted to be.

FBR: What was it like getting the call-up and then representing Gibraltar? Has this feeling altered as you’ve played in subsequent games?

AP: Any game for your country is a massive occasion. I feel so honoured to have been selected for all the squads so far and if I am selected for any in the future this feeling will not change. It is a feeling that is hard to describe really because it’s such a big thing for me but it’s a feeling that I would never change and I hope it can continue.

FBR: If selected for the Germany game, will this have a different feel to it?

AP: It’s hard to say really until you get there and start training and get on the pitch. Obviously it’s not every day you get to play the world champions, but we need to see it as another game for our country in which we need to go out and make our country proud like we do every time we play.

FBR: You said you ‘need to see it as just another game’, but is that possible knowing who the opponents are and that there will a huge television audience and associated media attention?

AP: Personally I don’t think about the media attention on the game. We’re all there to do a job which is to play football. Whether it is against the world champions or other minnows we need to make we take it as another game and do our job rather than focus on the less important things.

FBR: In your quieter moments during the day does your mind wander to think about that game – do you have a ‘Roy of the Rovers’ moment when you think about scoring against the world champions?

AP: Thinking about scoring against the world champions seems crazy, but if selected then it’s something that could potentially happen, but right now it’s not something I think about

FBR: Do you know if any Farsley AFC fans will make the trip to Germany?

AP: It would be nice if some fans could make the trip to the Germany game, but we know no matter what they will do us proud and make some noise for us.

FBR: Will your family and friends make the trip?

AP: I don’t think any of my family will make the trips,but there are a few friends who may make the trip if I get selected. They came to Ireland and hope to make as many games as possible.

FBR: Do you get nervous playing before games (club or international)?

AP: I don’t really get nervous before football games at all. Occasionally I might get butterflies on the way to a big game but that goes right away once the warm up begins

FBR: Do you think you’ll be nervous on the night of the Germany game?

AP: As said before I doubt I’ll be nervous the night before the Germany game, but in the coach to the stadium there might be some butterflies, but as soon as the warm up starts the focus is on the game and the job at hand and nerves quickly go

FBR: Do you have any pre-match rituals/habits that you follow?

AP: Pre-match rituals I have are to put my left things on first. So my left sock then my right – followed by my left boot then right boot and then left shin pad before my right shin pad. Other than that nothing.

FBR: Do you prepare any differently for internationals – i.e. your dietary regime or mental preparation?

AP: When away with Gibraltar we have our nutritionist who sorts all the team meals out so my diet is slightly different but other than that I’ll prepare for the games in the same way.

FBR: Who would you swap shirts with against Germany?

AP: I will swap with any German player as they are all great players but any of the world cup winners will be good.

FBR: Has playing international football brought greater pressure playing at Farsley?

AP: I don’t think that it’s brought any greater pressure, but I know that my club will always demand the best from me and they know what I can do. So if I am underperforming then they will drop me like any other player. That’s how it has to be.

I don’t put any extra pressure on myself because I don’t believe in putting pressure on myself. I do demand the best from myself at all times though but that hasn’t changed from a young age with me as I’ve always strived to achieve the best I possibly can.

FBR: How do you think opponents view you now you are an international?

AP: I don’t know if opponents take me any differently because of me playing for Gibraltar.

FBR: From Allen Bula (Gibraltar national manager) and the squad’s perspective, what is the target for Gibraltar in the qualifiers?

AP: We’re not here just to make the numbers up. We’re in this to compete as much as we can. The group is hugely difficult though, but we have to take one game at a time and see how well we can do and hopefully we can get some positive results.

FBR: What is your personal goal for the qualifiers?

AP: Personally if I can get into as many squads as possible throughout the campaign and then hopefully get as much game time as possible I would be happy. It would also be nice to get a goal or two.

FBR: Have you watched club football in Gibraltar? What is the standard like?

AP: I haven’t watched any of the league games in Gibraltar, but obviously I’ve played with a lot of players that play in the league there in the national team, so I know the standard is good and that there are a lot of good players.

FBR: Would you consider playing in Gibraltar?

AP: I would never rule out playing in Gibraltar or anywhere abroad. It would be difficult though as I have a good job and enjoy what I do, so to leave it all would be a big decision, but as I said I would never rule it out if I felt it was the right decision.

FBR: What prompted you to take up teaching?

AP: I always said when I was younger that I wanted to be a teacher if I wasn’t a footballer and then the opportunity came up to work as a Teaching Assistant and I’ve worked my way up from there.

FBR: Can you compare the satisfaction gained in teaching to football?

AP: It’s hard to compare anything to playing for your country right now. The feeling in indescribable. I love teaching and really enjoy my job but it’s hard to compare the two when they are so different.

FBR: How do you manage the commitments of playing and teaching?

AP: I have no choice but to manage them alongside each other and it’s what I’ve become used to really, so it’s just the norm for me to manage my life that’s a little bit of a rollercoaster.

FBR: What’s your routine when teaching at Morley and playing for Farsley?

AP: As I said before you learn to get into a routine with them all and when you need to fit things in around work and playing football, but it’s what I’m used to now.

FBR: How does this differ when playing for Gibraltar?

AP: When I play for Gibraltar it can be difficult at times, but I keep in contact with people at work to ensure I keep up to date with anything that’s going on and arranging fixtures etc.

FBR: In five years time what is Adam Priestley doing?

AP: Who knows what I’ll be doing. Hopefully I’ll still be involved in the Gibraltar squad and I can make positive strides in my career whether that be stepping into the professional game or whether that be in my profession of teaching, but you never know what might happen in life. Let’s see!

2013/14: Evo-Stik Division One North – Farsley AFC v Kendal Town

Farsley AFC, fourteen games unbeaten in the league, up against a Kendal Town team who were without a win in 2014. What could possibly go wrong for The Villagers. Well, prior to kick-off perhaps the omens were there to be seen. Farsley may not have lost in the league since mid-November, but they came into this game on the back of a 4-0 beating at Skelmersdale United in the Fourth Round of the (Doodson Sport) League Cup. Also throw into the mix that Kendal had already beaten Farsley twice this season – 3-0 in the league fixture in September and 3-2 in the FA Trophy in October – and maybe what seemed to be a routine three points for The Villagers suddenly wasn’t such a banker.

And so it proved to be.

In the opening forty five minutes, it was the visitors who dominated possession, prompted in midfield by the experienced Danny Coid and the dangerous front-line of Maison McGeechan and Danny Mitchley. Farsley too often went for the long-ball option, whilst Kendal threatened on the break. However, The Villagers were not without good chances. Midway through the half, Robbie O’Brien headed wide from a corner and later Ryan Serrant stormed forward and delivered a tantalising cross that eluded the Farsley forwards. Nevertheless for much of the half, Farsley manager Neil Parsley cut a frustrated figure and his mood was not helped shortly before the half-time whistle. From a quick throw Kendal number 10 McGeehan found his striking partner Mitchley. His first-time left foot effort was well saved by Tom Morgan, but the rebound fell kindly and Mitchley cleanly slotted home with his right foot. 1-0 at the break to Kendal and probably just about deserved.

Farsley came out better in the second-half and put the visitors under pressure. The turning point came just after the hour mark, when Kendal keeper MacDonald produced a stunning save from a close range Elllington header to maintain Kendal’s 1-0 lead. This was doubled on seventy five minutes, when McGeehan’s flick put through Mitchley, whose strike was well saved by Morgan. However, just as in the first-half the rebound fell kindly for Kendal and Callum Hoctor sweetly converted to put them 2-0 ahead. With just eight minutes remaining, Farsley at last had a slice of luck, when substitute Danny Hull’s intended cross found its way over MacDonald’s head and into the net. Farsley now went in search of an equaliser and near got it when a Matty Young half-volley was narrowly over the bar. However as the clock ticked-down, and despite plenty of pressure, there were no further scares for Kendal.IMG_0877

Whilst the loss will be disappointing for Farsley, in reality they are still well placed to claim a play-off berth. However, the remaining ten fixtures present some tough challenges, with home and away fixtures against promotions rivals, Curzon Ashton and Ramsbottom United and away games at play-off contenders Warrington Town, Lancaster City and Darlington 1883.

Neil Parsley has to galvanise his players for this final push towards the end of the season and the Farsley faithful will hope that the defeat to Kendal was just a one-off blip in the journey towards promotion to the Evo-Stik Premier Division.

2013/14: Evo-Stik League First Division North – Farsley AFC v Darlington 1883

After over forty years of watching football you’d think that making assumptions about the outcome of a particular match would be something that experience tells you is best avoided.

However, sometimes you just can’t help yourself. Take the game today for instance. Farsley had lost their opening game of the season away at Clitheroe 1-0 missing two penalties into the bargain and followed this up with a 3-1 home victory over Prescot Cables. Their opponents today Darlington 1883 had stormed to promotion taking the Northern League Division One title last season and had got off to a flyer in the new campaign not conceding a goal, as they dispatched Warrington Town (2-0) at home and Bamber Bridge (3-0) away. With Farsley seemingly still trying to bed in the summer signings and Darlington massive favourites to achieve a second promotion, the result seemed to be a bit of a foregone conclusion. Certainly this was the buzz from the travelling Quakers fans’ that swelled the attendance to a healthy 502 at Throstle Nest.

That confidence translated from the terraces to the Darlington players on the pitch, as they dominated the game from the off. The opening ten minutes belonged to Darlo as Stephen Thompson was the major threat to the Farsley defence. He was providing a dangerous outlet down the left and also had an early attempt on goal which Tom Morgan saved with his feet. Morgan was soon in action again, as he turned an Amal Purewal effort round the post. However, The Villagers held on during that early bombardment and on the counter won a penalty when Darlington skipper Leon Scott clipped the heels of Aidan Savory. Farsley skipper Rob O’Brien stepped up and scored to put the home side ahead with thirteen minutes gone. Darlington though took it in their stride and nearly equalised on the quarter hour mark, but Thompson fired wide after good work by James Moore provided the opportunity. If the expectation was that it was just a matter of time before Darlington equalised then this belief was dispelled as Farsley grew in stature as the half went on with Ellington and Savory coming more into the game. Bell in the Darlington goal had to make a finger-tip save from a Savory volley and suddenly the visiting fans were looking nervously at each other as their side was struggling at the back. Their concern was realised when on thirty one minutes Savory collected the box on the edge of the box before turning and firing home a low drive past Bell. The Farsley faithful were in raptures just three minutes later, when from a Paddy Miller free-kick, Bell tipped the ball onto the bar and with Darlington failing to clear the ball, Savory slammed home his second to make it 3-0. The Quakers players were shell-shocked and their supporters stunned at the shift in momentum of the game. However, they did get back in the game with Thompson providing the cross from which Andrew Johnson had a comfortable finish, just before the half-time whistle.

Many in the ground would have assumed that the visitors would come out all guns blazing in the second-half. However, it was Farsley who started the more positively. Darlington manager Martin Gray reacted by bringing on David Dowson and Craig Gott on fifty four minutes, but just two minutes later Farsley restored their three goal cushion as Savory raced onto a Mark Thompson through ball to smash home for his hat-trick. With the home side 4-1 up they seemed happy to sit back and allow Darlington possession. Whilst this allowed The Quakers plenty of the ball and despite the introduction of final substitute Paul Robinson, Darlington were unable to fashion a genuine chance as the game hit the seventy minute mark. Just as it seemed there would be no breakthrough for the visitors, Farsley backed off too far and allowed Stephen Thompson time and space to shot past Tom Morgan. Darlington continued to ‘huff and puff’ and with seven minutes remaining they were awarded a penalty after Matt Young was adjudged to have fouled Andy Johnson. Stephen Thompson took the kick, but blasted it high and wide and with it went The Quakers last chance to put Farsley under pressure and salvage anything from the game. At the whistle, Farsley had deservedly taken the points with a 4-2 score-line.

Given that it was only the third game of the season, the significance of the result can only really be viewed once the last kick of 2013/14 is taken. Farsley though will take heart from beating the title favourites as they attempt to put the disappointment of last season behind them. For Darlington it was probably a bit of a ‘reality check’ but in the long run will not do them any harm. On the evidence of today, these two sides will be amongst the promotion and play-off spots – blimey, now we’ve moved from assumptions to predictions.

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).

First-half: Garforth defend a corner.

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.

Ryan Serrant: Farsley AFC

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.

Second-half: Garforth on the back foot.

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.

2012/13: Evo-Stik League First Division North – Farsley AFC v Prescot Cables

As with 2012, my first football outing of 2013 is to Throstle Nest the home of Farsley AFC. Last year it was to see The Villagers take on West Yorkshire neighbours Garforth Town. A year on and it’s my third visit of the 2012/13 season to Farsley AFC, having seen them draw 1-1 with Ramsbottom United in September and then suffer a 3-1 reverse against Cammell Laird in October. Today the visitors are Prescot Cables who are struggling at the wrong end of the table having secured just 14 points from 21 games so far. The Tigers have only taken two points at home to date but have won three on the road against Goole AFC, Garforth Town and Wakefield, as well as three draws. However, coming into this game they had lost their last five fixtures. Farsley were unbeaten in their last four league games, but had only drawn the last two outings against Harrogate Railway (2-2) and Ossett Town (3-3). The Villagers have already taken three points against Prescot, having won 1-0 on Merseyside with a first-half Ryan Watson goal. Farsley are once again in the play-off ‘mix’, but have played more games than the teams around them and therefore a victory today was an absolute must in order to maintain their position.

The supporters pre-match talk in the clubhouse centred on the performance in midweek of Farsley whilst overcoming Whitby Town 3-1 in the Doodson Sport (League Cup); praise that was reflected in the match programme notes of manager Neil Parsley who said the players deserved “…a pat on the back…” after the victory.

However, The Villagers looked anything but comfortable in the opening minutes against Prescot as the visitors opened the scoring on five minutes. Farsley failed to deal with a long ball into the box and as the defence hesitated, The Tigers forward Ryan Grattan finished clinically past the helpless Ben Higginson. Indeed The Villagers keeper was the only player who seemed to be have any focus in the opening quarter of the game with a couple of early saves, as Farsley generally wasted possession too easily. Liam Dawson was leading the line well for Prescot with Owens also dangerous in midfield. Gradually though the home side worked their way into the match and David Stead had an effort on goal well saved by Martin Campbell. From the resulting corner the Prescot keeper was again in action, this time clawing away a header from Matt Dempsey. With half-time approaching and Cables still leading, David Stead pulled a hamstring as he tried to keep the ball in play after chasing down a through ball. With Stead unable to continue, Gareth Grant replaced him.

In the second-half, Farsley started brightly and Grant found himself free on the right in a one-on-one with The Tigers keeper Campbell. Grant was able to skip past the Prescot stopper, but was forced wide and was only able to shoot into the side netting. However, on sixty two minutes he made amends with a magnificent strike to level the scores at 1-1. The battle lines were then very much set for the remaining twenty eight minutes as Farsley looked for a winner and Prescot endeavoured to hang-on for a point. However, The Villagers in all honesty never really created a decent chance to win the game, something which irritated manager Neil Parsley, who became increasingly frustrated and animated as the half went on. The manager shuffled his pack in search of a winner, with Owen Davies and Sam Robinson making substitute appearances in the last ten minutes, alas to no avail. Despite a lack of possession, Prescot continued to cause problems as they broke out through Liam Dawson. Indeed, The Tigers might have won it as late on Ben Higginson misjudged a couple of Prescot efforts on goal. In truth a draw was probably a fair result. As the Farsley players and management left the pitch, their bowed heads told the story of a game that they knew they should have won, but never did enough to take the points.

So what now for Farsley? The Villagers have just sixteen league games remaining and whilst they have the ‘points in the bag’, all the other promotion chasing clubs around them have games in hand. That is not to say that Farsley are out of the running for a play-off place, but they can’t afford to drop too many more points like they did today against opposition lower down the table. It also means that when they take on the likes of Mossley, Trafford, Skelmersdale United and New Mills in the coming weeks, these fixtures have to be won. The reality this season for Neil Parsley is that his team has suffered with a number of injuries and suspensions leaving the squad looking thin and inexperienced; which has resulted for the most part in The Villagers been inconsistent in the league, with too many games drawn. Despite all this, Farsley are unbeaten in their last seven league and cup games and a win at leaders Mossley next week could make it a very interesting run-in for The Villagers. Football? It’s a funny old game.

2012/13: Evo-Stik League First Division North – Farsley AFC v Cammell Laird


Programme Cover: Farsley AFC v Cammell Laird

On my last visit to Throstle Nest back in September for the fixture between Farsley AFC and Ramsbottom, in a game which ended 1-1 and continued the home teams run without a win in the month, I commented that “…on this evidence, Farsley will have their work cut out to get amongst the play-off places, but their cause will be helped once the suspensions and injury situation improves…”

Well they certainly proved me wrong. After that game, The Villagers went on a run of six consecutive league victories, with home victories over Ossett Town (4-0) and Clitheroe (3-0) and four wins on the road at Garforth Town (3-1), Prescot Cables (1-0), Wakefield (5-0) and Goole AFC (3-0).

This impressive run took Farsley to second in the table prior to today’s home fixture against mid-table Cammell Laird. The Camels came into the game on the back of consecutive away wins after a 2-0 victory at Kendal Town in the FA Trophy (First Qualifying Round Replay) and a league victory at Radcliffe Borough (3-0). Therefore, Farsley knew that they were in for a game.

Given the form that Farsley were in, it was no surprise that they started confidently and in the opening ten minutes looked comfortable in possession and forced an early corner. However, The Villagers were caught cold on ten minutes when hesitancy in the Farsley defence allowed a through ball to fall to Jamie Henders who finished clinically past keeper Tom Morgan. This was only the second goal in seven league outings that Farsley had conceded and the players looked genuinely stunned and shell-shocked as they returned to the centre circle to restart the game. Worse was to follow for the home side when on seventeen minutes they found themselves 2-0 down. Steven Ferrigan fed Jamie Henders, who was lucky when his miscued shot ran through to Aaron Bowen, who slotted home. There was a half-hearted appeal from the Farsley defence for offside, but in reality they had been lethargic once more and were punished for it. It was not turning out to be a kind opening half for The Villagers, when experienced defender Mark Jackson was injured  and had to be replaced by Sam Robinson on twenty five minutes. Farsley huffed and puffed to try and get a foothold into the game, but never forced Laird’s keeper Atherton into a serious save. Just when Farsley thought it couldn’t get any worse, on the stroke of half-time Aaron Bowen got his second when he skilfully headed in a strike from Mike Grogan. The home crowd was stunned as the teams went off at the end of the first-half with Cammell Laird 3-0 up and cruising.

Farsley AFC – The only way is up?

It would have been interesting to have heard what Farsley manager Neil Parsley said to his side at the interval, but he made no changes as the teams emerged for the second-half. However, with an hour gone and little being created by his charges, Parsley substituted substitute Sam Robinson with Tom Dugdale. As in the first-half, there was plenty of endeavour from the home team, without a great deal being created in the way of chances. Finally on seventy eight minutes, Farsley scored when Adam Muller got wide and pulled the ball back for Adam Priestly to score from close range. This lifted the home crowd and they nearly had another goal to celebrate soon afterwards, when Muller lobbed The Camels goalkeeper Kevin Atherton, but Chay Dysart, made a spectacular over-head clearance on the line to retain the visitors two-goal lead. That was pretty much the last serious threat for Farsley and as the whistle went, Cammell Laird celebrated a third consecutive away win, whilst Farsley’s unbeaten run had come to a dramatic end.

2012/13: Evo-Stik League First Division North – Farsley AFC v Ramsbottom United

Saturday 22 September 2012 (10:00)

Last season Farsley finished fourth and made it into the play-offs, only to lose 3-0 in their Semi-Final game at Witton Albion. Having been so close to promotion and boosted by a number of summer signings, there would have been plenty of optimism around Throstle Nest that another decent challenge to make the next step up the football league ladder was on the cards. However, so far the season has never really got going for Farsley.

Their league campaign opened with a creditable 1-1 draw at Lancaster City, followed by a 5-3 home defeat of Salford City and Farsley ended August unbeaten after a 3-2 win over Jarrow Boldon Roofing CA in the FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round. However, so far September has been a miserable month for Farsley. It started with a 4-0 home drubbing by Mossley and was followed by another league defeat 2-0 at Ossett Albion. Farsley faced Ossett again just four days later at Throstle Nest, in the FA Cup First Qualifying Round, where the teams played out a 1-1 draw. In the replay Albion won 1-0 and Farsley’s participation in the FA Cup was over. Another Cup exit followed swiftly as after a draw with Radcliffe Borough, the replay at Stainton Park saw Farsley slip out of the FA Trophy with a 1-0 loss.

Today Farsley return to league action against Ramsbottom United hoping to kick-start their season. Their opponents are new to the Evo-Stik League First Division North, as Ramsbottom were promoted as Champions from the North West Counties Football League Premier Division. The Rams have had a steady start to this season, which began with an opening day 3-3 draw in the league against Cammell Laird and was followed by a 1-0 win at Ossett Town. August ended on a high as Brigg Town were dispatched 3-0 in the FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round. September started with a second away league win, this time 2-0 at Goole. There then followed a first league loss of the season, at home to Skelmersdale United. The Rams then exited the FA Cup after a 3-1 defeat at AFC Fylde, but bounced back last weekend with a 1-0 win over Brigg Town in the FA Trophy. United have been good on their travels so far this season and this will be a test of character for Farsley, who have struggled for goals, scoring just two in their last six matches.

Saturday 22 September 2012 (22:00)


First-half: Farsley on the break

On a sunny September afternoon, Farsley started brightly despite the poor month they were so far encountering. Up front Gareth Grant was posing the main threat for the home team and he had an early chance well saved by Ramsbottom keeper Grant Shenton. The positive start by Farsley was soon rewarded though on fifteen minutes, when Adam Muller played in Gareth Grant whose scuffed effort crept into the goal with Shenton wrong-footed. This spurned on the home team and further chances were being fashioned. The Rams keeper Grant Shenton was in inspired form as he kept out Muller with a full length save. On the half hour, Muller was again close as great control on his chest created a volleyed opportunity which just went wide. Farsley’s dominance was such that central defender Mark Jackson was increasingly venturing forward as they pressed for a second goal. It was not until shortly before half-time that the visitors created their first real chance, when Lee Gaskell had an effort comfortably gathered by Tom Morgan in the Farsley goal. The home side were worth their 1-0 lead, but really should have been further ahead.

Second-half: Ramsbottom defend

In the second-half, Farsley were again on the front foot in the opening period with Shenton saving brilliantly from a Ryan Watson shot. The dangerous Muller had another opportunity to increase the lead, but could only put his effort over the bar. With the visitors on the back foot, changes were needed and on the hour Phil Dean was replaced by Grant Spencer. The substitution proved to be inspired as within a minute The Rams were level. With almost his first touch, Spencer provided a perfect through ball for Gaskell, who lobbed it past the advancing Tom Morgan to score. The Rams and their fans sensed that the tide had turned as Gaskell went close on a couple of occasions with the game entering the final quarter. However, Farsley did have an excellent chance to win in near the end, as with a couple of minutes to go Gareth Grant was played in on the right, but instead of nestling in the back of the net, his shot just went wide. Ramsbottom though didn’t settle for a point and substitute Ryan Moore was denied twice in time added on, first by a brave save from Morgan and with seconds to go by the assistant’s flag.

Full-time: Farsley 1 – 1 Ramsbottom United

At the whistle the players left to good applause from the crowd for what had been an entertaining encounter. Farsley have still yet to win in September, but will entertain Osset Town on Tuesday and visit struggling Garforth Town next Saturday, in search of three points. Ramsbottom continue unbeaten on the road in the league and now look forward to a home tie to end September, against Northwich Victoria in the FA Trophy 1st Qualifying Round. On this evidence, Farsley will have their work cut out to get amongst the play-off places, but will be helped once the suspension and injury situation improves. For Ramsbottom, they looked to have enough battling qualities to ensure this is a season of consolidation in the league.

2011/12: Evo-Stik NPL Division One North – Farsley AFC v Garforth Town

(11.00am)                 Welcome to 2012! In football terms a year which includes the Africa Cup of Nations later this month in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, the European Championship Finals in Poland and Ukraine (starting in June) and the much debated return of a Great Britain football team at the London Olympics – quite a year.

Today though is a cracking West Yorkshire derby at Throstle Nest between Farsley AFC and Garforth Town. Both teams have had good seasons to date, with Farsley in third spot and Garforth in eighth. However, they know that there are teams around them with games-in-hand and therefore the pressure is on to keep winning and hope that teams around them drop points. Farsley have been on a great run recently in which they have won seven of their last eight League games. Garforth had a decent December winning three out of four games, so today is set up as an intriguing game.

(11.00pm)                 Farsley AFC (2) 2 – 3 (1)   Garforth Town

When a game finishes 3-2 you assume that it has been a bit of a cracker. However in truth the bumper crowd of 399 witnessed a pretty scrappy affair, due in part to the windy conditions and a pitch that had endured some heavy rain in the previous couple of days.

The game started badly for The Villagers, when in the opening five minutes, Mark Jackson was forced to leave the field with what looked like an ankle injury. However, this didn’t seem to unsettle Farsley and just a couple of minutes later, a through ball put Gareth Grant clear on goal. He kept his cool to round Garforth keeper Higginson to give the home side the lead. The Miners responded positively and it was no surprise when they levelled the score on twenty three minutes with Dempsey heading home for the visitors. Farsley were struggling to impose themselves on the game and even with the wind at their backs there was a lack of fluency to their play. Whilst it would be unfair to say the home team looked disorganised, they appeared to be missing the influence of the injured Mark Jackson. With half-time looming, Simeon Bambrook swung in a corner which found the net to give Farsley a somewhat fortunate 2-1 half-time lead.

As in the first half, Farsley were forced into an early substitution, this time Ben Jones pulled up with a hamstring problem. However, Garforth were soon into their stride in the second-half and were level within seven minutes of the restart. A corner from Oliver Hotchkiss found its way directly into the Farsley net, although there were protests from the home team that keeper Antoni Pecora had been fouled. Farsley continued to struggle in the second half and lacked cohesion all around the pitch. Garforth continued to chase every cause and never allowed The Villagers to settle. The visitors nearly took the lead from an effort by Tom Greaves, when a straightforward looking shot was badly handled by Pecora, who was grateful to grab the ball at the second attempt. Indeed, this incident reflected a Farsley side that looked apprehensive and had no answer to a Garforth side who looked more eager and ‘up for it’. The Miners persistence paid off when with three minutes to go, Paul Walker latched onto a mistake from David Briggs to clinically slot home the winner for Garforth. Farsley had no way back and at the final whistle the visitors celebration showed that not only was this a victory in a local derby with bragging rights at stake, but was a win that well and truly put Garforth into the play-off picture.

Farsley must dust themselves down and look forward to their remaining League fixtures in January with games against Mossley (away), Radcliffe Borough (home), Warrington Town (home) and Lancaster City (away). Garforth will start 2012 with confidence as they take on, Cammell Laird (home), Durham City (away), Curzon Ashton (away) and AFC Fylde (home). Then just as January 2012 started with The Villagers v The Miners fixture, so will the end of the month, as in the West Riding County Cup Quarter Final, Garforth host Farsley on 31st January. It’s going to be an interesting start to the year!

2011/12: Pre-season – Farsley AFC v Leeds United XI

Pre-season friendlies. Love them or hate them, they are part of the build-up to any new football season. For clubs, players, managers and fans they are a mostly a positive thing; however friendlies can have a downside too. Take for instance my visit to Throstle Nest and the Farley AFC v Leeds United XI fixture.

For Farsley this was their last game prior to starting their Evo-Stik First Division North League campaign and therefore a final opportunity to look at prospective players and formations. Leeds too used the game to look at three trialists and some of their young professionals. Given that the opposition were their professional city neighbours, Leeds United, it was a chance of a large attendance and all the benefits this brings in terms of revenue and publicity. The Villagers were also canny enough to move kick-off to 2pm, so as to provide an opportunity for those wanting to watch Leeds United’s opening game at Southampton in the Championship to do so, hopefully at the Throstle Nest clubhouse and therefore putting some additional revenue over the bar.

So far so good. Indeed as the players warmed up and the Farsley mascots played a mini-game on the pitch, there was a relaxed atmosphere amongst the crowd of just over 400. Leeds United included three trialists in their starting line-up as well as the familiar faces of Alex Bruce, Mike Grella and Aidan White.

The game kicked off in drizzly conditions, but before either side had chance to really settle, there was a major stoppage within the first ten minutes. After a Leeds attack, Farsley midfielder David Briggs was left on the ground in obvious pain. Unfortunately Briggs was stretchered from the pitch with what looked a serious leg injury and necessitated an ambulance to take the player to hospital. The Villagers official website reported that, “…Gareth Liversedge (the Farsley physio) commented after the game that Briggs was likely to have broken a bone in his lower leg but it would be confirmed in the next few days as x-rays would have to be carried out to determine the severity of the injury…” Briggs had left Ossett Town to join Farsley and had impressed in pre-season. Injuries are part and parcel of the game, but somehow it seems more shocking that it occurred in a friendly rather than the regular season. As yet the extent of the injury has not been confirmed, but it will obviously have repercussions. For instance, how will this affect his day-job? What impact does it have on his contract with Farsley? My hope is that David Briggs makes a speedy recovery and is back playing as soon as he can.

The injury seemed to rattle Farsley and in the remainder of the half were made to pay as Mike Grella put Leeds ahead and a brace from trialist Felix Luz, gave the visitors a 3-0 half-time lead. The second-half did see an improvement from Farsley but despite creating goal scoring opportunities, Luz completed his hat-trick and added Leeds fourth with 15 minutes to go.

From The Villagers perspective, the loss of David Briggs was a blow, but now have to regroup and focus on the opening game on Saturday at home to Lancaster City. For Leeds, well German trialist Felix Luz will have done his cause no harm with three goals. However, how do Alex Bruce, Mike Grella and Aidan White, see their first team chances after not being included in the squad that travelled to Southampton? Questions, questions – the football season is back!