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.

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.