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.

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!

2010/11: NCEL Div 1 – Leeds Carnegie v Glasshoughton Welfare

If you study the names of the teams currently within the two divisions of the NCEL, the terms, “Main”, “Collieries” or “Miners Welfare” appear and gave a massive clue as to the origination of the formation of a number of the clubs and specifically their mining roots. There are a number of exceptions of course and one of these is Leeds Carnegie FC, which is essentially the Leeds Metropolitan University first team. As a result their history is different to many of their league counterparts and I’m grateful to the Leeds Met, Leeds Carnegie FC websites and Wikepedia for information regarding the clubs background.

The team was originally called Leeds & Carnegie College F.C. and was founded in 1970. Their first nine years were spent in the Yorkshire Football League structure and in their first season Carnegie won the Division Three title. Success came their way again when in 1972-73 the club became Division Two Champions. The seventies also saw Carnegie have their best run in the FA Vase during the 1976-77 season, when they reached the Fourth Round before going out to Newcastle Blue Star 1-0.

In 1980, Carnegie left the Yorkshire League in favour of the Northern Universities League (NUL) . This period also saw a name change with the team known  as Leeds Polytechnic. The Poly had a 14 year stint in the NUL and was a period of great success. The Premier Division title was captured on nine occasions (1980/81, 1981/82, 1982/83, 1988/89, 1991/92, 1994/95, 2000/01, 2002/03 and 2003/04) as well as the NUL League Cup in 1999/2000 2002/03. In 1992 Leeds Polytechnic became  Leeds Metropolitan University and as a result the football club name was changed to Leeds Met Carnegie.

In 2004 Carnegie left the NUL for the West Yorkshire League, (part of the English football pyramid – the Premier Division is at Level 11) and were crowned champions of the Premier Division in 2005-06. The club was denied promotion as they didn’t have a ground up to the required standards. However, Carnegie were able to step up to the NCEL Division One in 2006-07 when they agreed to play at the home of Farsley at Throstle Nest.

As 2011 dawned Carnegie found themselves holding a mid-table position but were hit with the news in January that manager Graham Potter intended to leave to take over Osterund FK in Sweden. The club wasted no time in appointing Mark Macrow as his replacement with James Earl as his assistant.

The fixture against fellow mid-table side Glasshoughton Welfare in early February gave me the chance to see if team had been affected by the change in manager. So far on my Non League travels this season I’ve been impressed by the set-up at the various grounds and clubs I have visited. However this Saturday was a little disappointing. The reason for this? Well, it comes down to issues around the programme and lack of match day announcer. In the case of the programme, I expect to see brief pen-pictures of the opposition rather than those of the home squad. Unfortunately those provided for the Carnegie team were in my opinion not appropriate for this level of football and did not portray a professional bearing, given that there were loaded with comments which maybe fine in the dressing-room, but which meant little to the paying public. Also, the programme contained the respective squads and not team line-ups. Now this is fine, as long as there is an announcement of the team line-ups so that the crowd know who is playing. Unfortunately on Saturday, this didn’t happen and it did take away some of the enjoyment of watching, in that I was unable to identify who was who.

Of the game itself, Carnegie throughout tried to keep the ball on the ground, but were ultimately undone by being reduced to 10 men in the first-half. In a game of few chances, Carnegie looked like they might be able to get a point from the game when with 15 minutes to go the score was still level at 0-0. However, the deadlock was broken on 78 minutes when Damion Liddle latched onto a through ball to seal the win for the visitors. On balance I thought Glasshoughton just about shaded it, although Carnegie put in a brave display.

 Leeds Carnegie reported the match as follows:

10 Men Carnegie Just Fall Short

Despite a spirited performance for a character filled 10 men, Carnegie were just short of holding Glasshoughton to a draw – and could have won it!

Leeds Carnegie were put under pressure early by Glasshoughton whose physical approach saw defender Scott McGrory have to leave Throstle Nest with a suspected broken ankle in just the second minute.

 This lead to a physical, scrappy game with Carnegie being error bound which opened up two early chances for Glasshoughton – but failed to trouble stand in keeper Jordan Clarke.

Mid-way through the half however came the turning point. Following a silly booking for throwing the ball away, Matt Freeman lunged into an unnecessary challenge which gave referee Nigel Haycock no choice but to show the second yellow.

As the half wore on, Carnegie with their 10 men settled into their usual game and had chances through McGrory and Hawthorn but failed to really carve any openings of note.

On reflection of the first half, Carnegie would have been happy to go in at 0-0. The second half, however saw the home side come out in an alternative formation that proved to work as they began to put together some fantastic flowing moves, working the ball across the pitch picking gaps through the Glasshoughton team.

One of Carnegie’s best moves came from a Glasshoughton attack where the visitors forward missed what looked to be an easy chance , Carnegie coolly played the ball out of defence through the midfield and out to the left flank where Mycoe played the ball back inside. The ball was then worked over to the opposite side of the pitch through the Carnegie midfielders with a sequence of short but effective passes eventually finding Greig McGrory who, with an excellent first touch managed to control the ball into his path before seeing it flash across the goal mouth. An excellent strike from the clubs top scorer.

Jordan Clarke, put in a fantastic display in the sticks on his first team debut but was unable to prevent a clever low finish from the Glashoughton striker. The ball was played through the Leeds Carnegie defence, with Clark advancing out of his goal, the away sides striker tucked the ball underneath him.

Just moments later, against the run of play – Carnegie almost went two down but a clever chip could only find the top of the goal. Despite a couple of chances falling to the visitors, the home side continued to dominate the half despite being a man down. Rossiter looked very confident at the back putting in some superb challenges.


Leeds Carnegie       0 (0) – (0) 1    Glasshoughton Welfare

                                                            [Damion Liddle 78 minutes]

 Attendance: 69

The official website of Leeds Carnegie FC can be found by clicking the following: http://www.pitchero.com/clubs/leedscarnegie/