By John Baron
Farsley Celtic secured a vital – and impressive – win against playoff hopefuls Darlington FC last night to successfully start a run of four consecutive home games which could decide their season.
A first-half brace from loanee Theo Williams and a third from skipper Chris Atkinson saw Farsley draw level with fifth-bottom Leamington and improve their chances of escaping relegation from National League North.
Celts boss Russ Wilcox said his side’s performance levels over the past 20 games had been ‘incredible’ and said last night’s impressive win against a side chasing promotion was well-deserved following Saturday’s disappointing 2-0 reverse at Buxton.
The Celts started positively, Andy Butler heading just wide of the left-hand post after four minutes, and soon after Butler was again denied – this time by Alex Purver’s clearance off the line.
Farsley’s dominance paid off after 11 minutes. The visitors gave the ball away in midfield and Kian Scales played a perfectly weighted through-ball to the pacy Theo Williams, who made no mistake one on one with the keeper.
The home side suffered a blow when midfielder Bobby Johnson hobbled off with what appeared to be a serious hamstring injury after 20 minutes.
The visitors slowly worked their way back into the game which led to a couple of half chances.
Their pressure almost paid off when Felix laid off a long ball for Hazel to run into the area, but his shot came back off the inside of the post and bobbled away to safety.
The Celts managed to weather that period, and then struck again to make it 2-0 just before the interval.
Carlton Ubaezuonu’s effort was partly stopped by keeper Taylor, with Williams adding his second from a couple of yards out.
The Quakers nearly scored within a couple of minutes’ of the restart, when Felix crossed from the right for Hazel to head onto the roof of the net.
The second half saw Farsley defending well, limiting the visitors’ threat until Purver side-footed his side back into contention after the ball somehow eluded everyone as it came in from the right on 68 minutes.
But Farsley regained their two-goal lead on 71 minutes, when Mulhern set up Chris Atkinson to go through and slot the ball home to Taylor’s left, much to the delight of the Farsley Celtic faithful.
Darlington threw lots of men forward in the closing stages, but The Celts’ defence stood firm for an important 3-1 win.
The referee will be reporting two incidents involving Darlington fans to the FA.
The first was after 70 minutes when a Darlington fan ran on to the pitch and joined in the celebrations of the goal. The second was after 75 minutes when Farsley goalkeeper Max Dearnley alerted the referee to objects being thrown at him, as well as being spat at. The referee stopped the game and alerted the Farsley stewards.
Darlington have condemned the incidents and launched an appeal for witnesses.
Saturday sees the Celts at home again, this time against Peterborough Sports. Kick off 3pm at The Citadel.
Celts’ boss Russ Wilcox said his side were worthy winners, and praised the team’s spirit:
Darlington boss Alun Armstrong said his side were ‘horrendous’ defensively and criticised a lack of desire and aggression.
Farsley Celtic: Dearnley, Scales, Butroid, Johnson (Devine 20), Butler, Clayton, Allan, Atkinson, Ubaezuonu (sub Turner 82), Mulhern, Williams. Subs: Syers, Parkin, Muggleton.
Darlington FC: Taylor, Hedley, Sukar, Cooper, Newall (sub Howe 65), Moke (Wheater 76), Purver, Rivers, Nelson (sub Liddle 76), Felix, Hazel. Subs: Rose, Brookwell.