Farsley Celtic 1 AFC Telford 1 - Report and pictures
Two goals, separated by ninety minutes of attrition, left the Bucks ultimately unsatisfied with a point from their visit to West Yorkshire...writes Richard Worton
Manager Gavin Cowan admitted that this result was “hard to take”, and the image of Bucks players crouched on their haunches at the full-time whistle told the same tale.
On the balance of play, the point was a fair reward for the home side, but having opted to take on Farsley at their own game and having given everything in an unremittingly physical encounter, Celtic’s late, late leveller was a bitter pill to swallow, particularly as the Bucks had passed up a chance to make the game safe just seconds earlier.
Only a matter of seven weeks had passed since Farsley staged a textbook smash and grab raid at the New Buck’s Head, withstanding a first-half battering at the New Buck’s Head before snatching the lead and adding a late goal to seal the points.
It looked as though the Bucks were going to turn the tables on Adam Lakeland’s side; a first minute goal, tapped home by Matty Stenson, gave the Bucks the platform they’d have sought, and although they came under siege in the second half, they appeared set to record a victory.
That was until defender Danny Ellis scored what will surely go down as the best goal of his career, catching a volley from at least 30 yards that whistled past a previously unbeatable Matt Yates in the Bucks goal.
Ellis forms one half of a footballing Mitchell brothers pairing with fellow centre-half Jack Higgins, and if the famous ‘Eastenders’ drum break had followed his strike it wouldn’t have been out of keeping, such was the dramatic nature of the goal. For every storyline such as this, there is usually someone on the receiving end, and for the Bucks it was Yates. The goalkeeper, on loan from Championship side Derby County, had been outstanding all afternoon, denying Celtic when the defence in front of him had been unable to hold back the flood.
Yates’ handling and positioning was solid, with the home side always keen to test the Bucks from set-pieces, and three saves in particular stood out. In the first half the keeper got a hand to Jack Higgins angled shot, enough to direct it onto the crossbar and away, and in the second half he denied the same player miraculously as the home side piled more men forward, scooping a header off the line to his right as Higgins connected firmly with a cross.. He also pushed a Nathan Cartman drive wide to deny the substitute a goal within moments of his introduction as the home side gambled.
Yates’ heroics were matched by his defensive colleagues, with skipper Shane Sutton also outstanding, as they sought to hold onto the lead given them by Stenson. Barely a minute had passed when a ball into the box was cleared to Ryan Barnett, and after the winger’s sidestep and shot brought a good save from Elliott Wynne, but only into the path of Stenson, who poked the ball in at the second attempt from a yard out.
Chances came for both sides in the early stages, before the pattern of the game became one of the Bucks repelling Celtic’s almost continuous stream of early balls forward from defence. Aaron Williams, a late change to the side originally named by Cowan, flicked a low cross from Brendon Daniels across goal from the near post, aghast that Stenson or another teammate in purple hadn’t pounced on the chance. Daniels himself blazed a half-chance over on the volley, whilst Celtic’s best chances came from a succession of free-kicks conceded 30-40 yards from goal, Higgins shot onto the bar the most clear-cut.
Both sides collected bookings as the game’s temperature saw tempers simmer without boiling over. Jimmy Spencer was perhaps fortunate to only get a stern talking to after taking a swipe at Arlen Birch, having already been booked.
Neither midfield saw much of the ball in the second half, but from one fairly direct ball forward Stenson ploughed past his man, cut in and shot over the crossbar when he could, perhaps should, have located Ryan Barnett in a more open position to his right. Celtic’s own efforts to get back into the game lacked sophistication on a difficult playing surface, with Spencer skewing a shot horribly wide of Yates’ far post when he had a sight of goal, and Ben Atkinson doing likewise when much closer to goal, picking up the pieces from one of the steady flow of balls played into the box through the air.
Those two efforts came either side of Yates’ two second-half saves, and as Celtic pushed the Bucks almost made the game safe on the counter-attack.
Already deep into injury time, the away side got away down the left, with Celtic having withdrawn both full-backs; on this occasion they did find Barnett unmarked and with a clear run at goal, but Wynne read his low shot to divert the ball to safety with his left foot.
From that position, Celtic had one remaining throw of the dice, and this time, their number was a lucky one; Ellis, pushing higher and higher upfield, swung at the ball 30 yards out and Yates couldn’t get anywhere near his shot, arrowing into the top corner to shatter the Bucks’ resistance.
AFC Telford United: Yates, Birch, White, Deeney, Sutton (c), Lilly, Barnett, Walker, Stenson (Royle 78), Williams, Daniels.
Unused substitutes: McQuilkin, Knights, Dinanga, Cowans.
Scorer: Stenson (1).
Cautions: Stenson, Lilly, Sutton, Williams.
Farsley Celtic: Wynne, Richards (Syers 86), Regan (Earing 74), Higgins, Ellis, Clayton, B.Atkinson, C.Atkinson, Hayhurst, Walton (Cartman 74), Spencer.
Unused substitutes: Parkin, Bower.
Referee: Paul Brown.
Assistants: Callum Gough, Wayne Cooper.