Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Farsley Celtic

B.Atkinson (5)

Hednesford Town

Fitzpatrick (45), Glover (78), Lawrie (90)

(1) 1

(1) 3



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Sam Oji


Barwell (H) 10.2.18

The Pitmen completed their second league double of the season at Farsley Celtic this afternoon, beating their fellow play-off chasers at the Throstle Nest with a dominant second-half display that saw them move above their opponents and into fifth place in the table


Hednesford's recent surge up the table had been checked recently with successive home draws to Coalville Town and Whitby Town, leaving them two points outside the play-off places at the start of play. Manager Rob Smith was dealt a double blow to his starting XI ahead of kick-off, with Mason Walsh moved to the substitute's bench after failing to arrive in time for kick-off. Reece King - also originally in the starting XI - pulled up injured in the warm-up, meaning a reprieve for Joe Fitzpatrick in midfield


Farsley had remained amongst the front-runners for a play-off place throughout the festive break, sitting just one place outside the top five ahead of play, two places above the Pitmen in the Evo-Stik League Premier. January had been a mixed bag of results for Adam Lakeland's side with impressive wins over Shaw Lane and Buxton offset against defeats against Altrincham and Matlock Town


A grim day in West Yorkshire saw the game kick off amidst a backdrop of grey skies and constant light drizzle, with the hosts created a clutch of good chances in the opening moments. With two minutes on the clock, James Wren tipped over a rising shot from Isaac Baldwin, conceding a corners for the hosts. From the resultant kick, Adam Clayton rose highest to head towards goal, only to be denied by another save by Wren, who once again turned the ball over for a corner


The Pitmen failed to heed the warnings, and fell behind in the fifth minute as Farsley took the lead. Danny Glover gave the ball away inside the Celtic half, allowing Paul Walker to work the ball in to the feet of midfielder Ben Atkinson. He took advantage of lax Hednesford defending to take the ball around Wren and slot the ball into the empty net from close range


Farsley continued to have the better of the play in the opening fifteen minutes, as Wren saved well from a Walker's cross, before another deep cross from the former Bradford (Park Avenue) midfielder flashed across the face of Wren's goal on twelve minutes


The Pitmen's first chance of the game fell to James Lawrie on seventeen minutes, with the midfielder getting on the end of a Glover flick-on and taking the ball around Farsley keeper Graeme McKibbin. However, he took the ball wide, thus narrowing his angle, and allowed Clayton to get back on the line and block his goalbound shot


From the resultant corner kick, Jordan Graham's quick thinking almost levelled matters for the visitors as he back-heeled the loose ball towards goal, only to be denied by a goal-line clearance by Baldwin


Back came the hosts, with Dan Cockerline testing Wren's reflexes on twenty minutes, before the in-form stopper made another good save to turn Nathan Turner's lob over the crossbar for a Farsley corner seven minutes later


The Pitmen were digging in towards the end of the half, as a succession of free kicks and corners put the young Hednesford defence under pressure. Despite this, with the final act of the first half, they drew level due in part to some excellent refereeing; some intelligent approach play from the Pitmen saw the ball played into Lawrie, who was taken out as he looked to lay the ball off. Rather than pull the ball back for a free kick, the referee allowed play to continue as the ball broke to Fitzpatrick, who coolly placed the ball beyond McKibbin and into the corner of the net


This late equaliser will have changed Smith's half-time team talk, as the Pitmen emerged with purpose and showed more willing to close the opposition down by winning more of the marginal balls. Tom Thorley and Fitzpatrick were more involved as the game wore on, whilst the full backs Callam Mendez-Jones and Matt Curley made more confident moves into the opposition half after a defensive first period


The visitors were forced into their first change of the afternoon on sixty-six minutes, as winger James Fitzgibbon suffered a nasty looking head wound after he had made a run down the right wing and clattered into the advertising hoardings after sending over a cross. Walsh was brought on in a like-for-like swap as Fitzgibbon was taken off for stitches to his wound


Walsh was straight into the action, adding pace and trickery to the Pitmen's attack. A great run down the left wing on sixty nine minutes saw Walsh cross for Thorley, who somehow failed to turn the ball home from fifteen yards out


Former Wolves and Wimbledon man Louis Harris was given a chance to impress by Smith on seventy minutes, as the midfielder came on in place of goalscorer Fitzpatrick 


The Pitmen were slowly exerting their authority on the game as the ball spent more and more time in the Farsley half. They finally got their noses in front through top scorer Glover with twelve minutes remaining as a superb swinging cross from Graham found Glover, who headed firmly through the legs of McKibbin from close range to score his tenth goal of the season


Mendez-Jones came to Hednesford's rescue three minutes later, making a superb block to deny Atkinson an equaliser after initially slipping to allow the Farsley goal scorer in on goal but recovering well to make a timely stop


In an attempt to see the game out and protect the three points, the Pitmen made their final change of the afternoon with six minutes left as Ben Bailey came on in place of Graham to add extra height and experience to the defence in the final moments


As Farsley pushed forwards in search of a leveller, the Pitmen took full advantage of the gaps they left at the back with a killer third goal in added time. Lawrie created the chance for himself as he harried Lewis Turner, taking advantage of the defender's dithering to rob the ball off him before taking the ball around McKibbin and slotting home from an angle to seal all three points for the visitors


For the Pitmen to be sitting in fifth place in the table in early February - in relation to their league position back in early December - you have to give Smith and Larry Chambers immense credit for turning the fortunes of the side around. In the process, they have also turned their negative goal difference around, which was once sitting as high as -12 and is now back to zero, further highlighting the rapid progress the team has made. Their recent unbeaten record goes back on the line next weekend, as mid-table Barwell visit Keys Park


Farsley Celtic: McKibbin, L. Turner, Baldwin, C. Atkinson (Murray 81), Harris, Clayton ©, B. Atkinson, N. Turner, Cockerline, Cartman, Walker (Parkin 84). Unused Subs: Wells, Trenerry

Hednesford Town: Wren, Mendez-Jones, Curley, Fitzpatrick (Harris 70), Oji, Gatter, Graham (Bailey 84), Thorley ©, Glover, Lawrie, Fitzgibbon (Walsh 66). Unused Subs: King, Butlin


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