Farsley Celtic returned to winning ways with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Stourbridge, writes Thomas Ritchie.
The six-hour round-trip proved a fruitful one for the Celts courtesy of goals from Ben Atkinson and Isaac Baldwin, either side of a Luke Benbow strike.
Both sides struggled to find their rhythm in the early stages and the first shot didn’t arrive until the 15th minute, Isaac Baldwin’s effort comfortably saved by Harry Beasley.
The Celts then took the lead as Ben Atkinson drilled his strike past Beasley, who perhaps should have made the save, from just outside the box after being found by Isaac Baldwin.
However, Farsley’s lead lasted less than 60 seconds as Luke Benbow’s shot on the turn took a wicked deflection and flew into the top corner past a helpless Graeme McKibbin.
McKibbin had to be at his best minutes later to prevent the hosts taking the lead, denying Benbow when one-on-one after the Stourbridge striker was played in by Darryl Westlake.
Both Ben Atkinson and Chris Atkinson had excellent opportunities to re-establish Farsley’s lead after excellent work down the left from Paul Walker, but both had shots blocked in the box in quick succession.
Luke Benbow then got in behind the Farsley defence after they were caught out by a long ball, but Graeme McKibbin was quick off his line to close down Benbow and prevent the Glassboys from taking the lead.
Less than a minute into the second-half Isaac Baldwin scored what turned out to be the winner as the Celts regained their lead. Nathan Cartman’s header was superbly tipped onto the post by Beasley, before the ball rolled across the goal for Baldwin to tap into the wide-open goal.
The hosts were gifted a route back into the game less than ten minutes later as Nathan Turner lunged in on Luke Shearer in the box and the referee awarded Stourbridge a penalty. However, Graeme McKibbin was equal to the task diving low to his right to save Benbow’s weak spot-kick and keep the Celts in front.
Farsley had a heart-stopping moment midway through the half as Kaiman Anderson’s cross was turned towards his own goal by Adam Clayton, but fortunately it nestled in the grateful arms of Graeme McKibbin.
Nathan Cartman had the Celts’ best chance to finish off the game after breaching the Stourbridge defence, only for his attempted lob from a tight angle to drift inches over the crossbar.
Cartman was involved once more as he was gifted the ball by Stuart Pierpoint and found Ben Atkinson, but Atkinson’s strike was straight at Stourbridge shot-stopper Harry Beasley.
Pierpoint then had the ball in the back of the Farsley net but the referee spotted a foul on McKibbin, before Stourbridge came agonisingly close to drawing level. Leon Broadhurst got a shot off in the box, however McKibbin made a fabulous save to deny the Glassboys what wouldn’t have been an undeserved leveller.
Substitute Chris Lait then had a brace of opportunities in injury time but failed to find the back of the net, firing over and then being denied by McKibbin, Farsley hanging on for a vital three points that keeps their playoff hopes alive.
Stourbridge FC: Beasley, Christophorou (Antonio 82), Westlake, McCone ©, Pierpoint, Shearer, Tonks, Broadhurst, Benbow, Anderson (Lait 68), Gater. Unused subs: Hall, Cooke, Evans.
Farsley Celtic: McKibbin, Harris, L. Turner, C. Atkinson, Wells, Clayton ©, B. Atkinson, N. Turner, Walker, Cartman (Parkin 88), Baldwin (Watson 66). Unused subs: Trenerry (GK), Murray, Bett.