The Bucks were both patient but impulsive in this game; they resisted the urge to throw caution to the wind, but when the opportunity arrived, they cast their restraint to one side and delivered a spell of 10-15 minutes’ worth of almost ceaseless attack. It proved too strong to resist and was too much for their West Yorkshire opponents, who succumbed, giving the Bucks their first league victory since 21st August, writes Richard Worton.
It was a much-needed victory, for many reasons. After tumbling to 21st place off the back of just 4 points from 8 matches, the need to get some more points on the board was pressing; the morale boost of a win, for just about everyone involved with the club, was also a high priority.
In their current situation, a win by any means would have been welcome; however, the Bucks sent their fans home happy with a tick in the box marked ‘performance’ also, making it their best 90 minutes for some considerable time.
Interim manager Dennis Greene was in the dug-out, and made two changes to the team defeated 4-1 at Boston United in the Bucks’ previous match. Arlen Birch was absent with injury, his place taken by new Stoke City loan signing Tom Sparrow, and Greene recalled Zak Lilly following suspension, to take the place of Kory Roberts.
Under Greene, the Bucks had yet to collect any points; however, their performances in two defeats with him in charge showed evidence of some belief once more, albeit in fits and starts. That upward trend continued here, and the hosts tried to get onto the front foot, with Kai Williams darting here and there, his pace getting him behind the Farsley defence. His low cross was turned into the side netting by strike partner Jason Oswell inside the first 10 minutes.
Celtic responded with a curling Luke Parkin delivery from a free-kick being headed by James Hanson powerfully, and gratefully, straight at goalkeeper Russ Griffiths.
After 20 minutes, a slick Bucks move down their left ended with Kevin Berkoe’s cross being just too high for the airborne Sparrow to meet with his head; the debutant fouled a Celtic defender in the process, but the positivity in the move was adopted by the crowd, warming to the Bucks’ approach.
Some loose defensive play gave Will Hayhurst a chance to shoot at goal soon after, but the Celtic man, heavily involved in the early stages, saw his swipe at the ball swing wide of goal.
Berkoe, who enjoyed a good debut against Brackley Town but had been less noticeable since, was looking to get forwards from left-back and his efforts in digging the ball out to feed Durrell in the box led to a low Adam Walker cross being claimed by Wright. Moments later, Williams was inches away from being in behind the defence, an outstretched leg poking the ball back to Wright as Williams accelerated onto a through ball.
On the half-hour the Bucks got their clearest sighting of goal yet; Cameron Antwi, another loan signing, found Durrell 15 yards out with a pass from the left edge of the penalty area. Durrell was central and had time, and such is Durrell’s prowess that you expected the net to bulge; however, he got underneath his shot and cleared the crossbar.
Durrell was soon taking aim once more, scuffing a low shot wide of Wright’s right post when Ross White’s overlap pulled a defender away.
Whilst the Bucks were starting to find the higher gears, Celtic still posed a threat. The visitors recorded only their second win of the season last weekend, and could, maybe should, have been ahead when Luke Parkin’s angled shot was beaten down by Griffiths; the Bucks keeper was out at Parkin’s feet to bravely smother the follow-up, and the chance was gone.
It was all square at the interval, and the Bucks could be pleased with their efforts, but persistence would be the key in turning a decent performance into that sought-after victory. Williams maintained the tempo, but the first chance of the half fell to Celtic, as Jimmy Spencer met a low cross from the goal-line but screwed his shot across the face of goal and wide.
Celtic made a substitution, and with almost his first act after being introduced, Tyler Walton picked up a yellow card. Celtic were to enjoy their best spell, and Spencer was again wasteful, this time firing the ball over the bar from 15 yards out when Parkin’s pass picked him out in the penalty area. The visitors went close again on 58 minutes when makeshift defender Adam Clayton’s close-range header was saved at the foot of his post by Griffiths.
If anyone thought that Celtic were gaining momentum, they were soon made to think again. The Bucks were about to go into overdrive, and the visitors had no answer. On 59 minutes, Williams’ pace drove him infield from the right and his low cross towards Oswell appeared to come off a defender before being instinctively forced up and onto his crossbar at close range by Wright. Oswell had a similar chance from an Antwi cross minutes later.
There was to be no let-up, and Wright pushed Durrell’s shot on the run out for a corner, the keeper unwilling to take the chance that the fiercely-struck shot was going wide. From the corner, Oswell’s stooping flick-on at the near post flashed through the six-yard box, and Wright had to move sharply to stop Antwi’s effort towards the open side of the net.
Durrell then cut in along the edge of the penalty area, letting go of a low, curling shot that bent beyond Wright’s fingertips, but also a few feet wide of the post as the Bucks attacking impulses grew.
Amid this spell, manager Greene had introduced substitute Dom McHale, and he was to make the breakthrough. The midfielder was a standout performer last season, but fitness issues saw him sidelined under former boss Gavin Cowan. On 69 minutes he delivered a riposte to any doubts, cutting long the edge of the box from the right and planting a sumptuous finish across Wright and into the far corner.
Delight and relief spilt out from the crowd, and their afternoon was to get better. Four minutes later, Durrell at last found the net; his darting run into the box onto a through ball put just Wright between him and goal, and he coolly beat the advancing keeper to double the lead.
The devastating spell seemed to have taken a lot from the home side, but ultimately proved worthwhile. Celtic made some efforts to try and haul themselves back into the game, with Hanson heading one opportunity over the crossbar before then having a shot deflected wide for a corner. From the flag-kick, Celtic skipper Dave Syers’ header rebounded off the crossbar, but the visitors were to come no closer to spoiling Griffiths’ third clean sheet of the season.
At the final whistle, both fans and players alike enjoyed the taste of victory, one that had been a long time coming but probably tasted all the sweeter for it. Bucks captain Walker described it as a win that “got the monkey off our banks”, and whilst one win doesn’t fix everything, there was plenty of evidence that whoever eventually takes over as the club’s manager has the basis of something to work with.
Referee: Kristian Silcock.
Assistants: David Brown, Declan Brown.
Telford: Griffiths, Berkoe, White, Streete, Lilly, Antwi (Abbey 90), Sparrow, Walker, Oswell, Durrell (Bennett 86), Williams (McHale 61).
Subs not used: Roberts, Bood.
Scorers: McHale (69), Durrell (73).
Farsley Celtic: Wright, Richards, Hayhurst (Loughlan 75), Blythe, Clayton, Syers, Atkinson (Walton 51), Turner, Parkin, Spencer, Hanson.
Subs not used: Kherbouche, Fialdini, Westcarr.
Cautioned: Blythe, Walton.