Having witnessed Garforth Town come through the last round against Sheffield FC, I returned to the Genix Healthcare Stadium for The Miners Budweiser FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round tie against Frickley Athletic.
Frickley are a division above Garforth in the Evo-Stik structure, playing in Northern Premier League and came to Garforth on the back of 2-0 midweek victory over Stocksbridge Park Steels. Garforth fared less well during the week going down at home 1-0 to Mossley. Therefore, the Cup today was a welcome distraction with Town struggling at the wrong end of the table.
Garforth were aiming to match their best progress in the FA Cup by winning today and entering the 2nd Qualifying Round. The only time this was achieved was back in 2008/09, when after coming through ties against Tow Law Town and Ossett Town, Garforth were drawn at Guiseley. The Miners drew 2-2, but couldn’t finish the job at home and were beaten 3-1 in the replay. By contrast Frickley have a good FA Cup pedigree having reached the 1st Round on 11 occasions, the 2nd Round on 2 occasions and the 3rd once, when in 1985/86 they hosted Rotherham United, losing 3-1.
Given Frickley’s Cup tradition and their higher League status, you would have expected them to dominate the game from the off. However, it was Garforth who got into their stride quickest and bossed the game for the first 25 minutes. In truth, they could have been 3-0 up by then. Within the first 10 minutes The Miners forward Paul Walker had an excellent chance as he found himself unmarked in front of goal, but he blazed badly over. Not long after, Frickley keeper Adam Billard had to be at his best to palm away another Garforth effort on goal. With The Miners dominating, the visitors then cleared off the line from a Darren Kelly effort. They say you need a bit of luck in the Cup and the visitors were certainly getting more than their far share. So it was to prove further when on 27 minutes and with their first real attack, Frickley won a corner and in a bit of a melee, David Cyrus gave the visitors the lead. Lady luck was again with the visitors when just five minutes later Garforth had a goal disallowed for what appeared to be a foul on Frickley keeper Billard. What was also to prove significant later in the game was the yellow card for Darren Kelly as he contested the referee’s decision to strike off the goal. The visitors finished the half in more composed fashion and Alex Callery had a decent chance, but fired wide.
Garforth would have hoped to come out firing for the second half, but the tone for the remainder of the game was set early when a defensive mistake allowed Bradley Grayson to cross for Frickley winger Leon Henry. However, his weak shot was gathered easily by home keeper Higginson. Henry was starting to get more chances to run at the Garforth defence and on 55 minutes Darren Kelly fouled the Frickley forward. The subsequent second yellow reduced Garforth to 10 men and the game was effectively over as James Ashmore beautifully struck home the resulting free-kick. Now deflated so soon in the second half, Garforth huffed and puffed, but had little to show in the remainder of the game. The nearest the home side came to a goal was a Paul Walker effort which grazed the bar midway through the half. However, with the man advantage, Frickley remained in control and never looked likely to relinquish their two goal advantage.
So Frickley Athletic made it into the hat for the 2nd Qualifying draw. For Garforth, they will feel that this is another performance that has typified their season to date. There is a sense of something not being quite right currently at The Genix. Results aren’t going their way and the air of frustration is apparent. One article in the club programme hinted as much when pointing out, “…the apparent lack of players in the squad seeing as yet again we failed to fill the subs bench…” Indeed, today The Miners filled only four of the five available slots. Congratulations to Frickley for making it through, but it was certainly not a Cup of cheer for Garforth. It could be a long and hard season at The Genix.
Postscript: Tadcaster Albion featured on FATV with highlights of their home tie against Scarborough Athletic. Danny Gray opened the scoring for The Brewers on 14 minutes with a header, and got a second after a double-save from the Scarborough keeper on 63 minutes. Carl Stewart completed the 3-0 victory with a free-kick 2 minutes from time.