By John Baron
Ten-man Farsley Celtic battled to a 1-0 win against Hereford FC – and earned what could be a vital three points in their fight against relegation.
The Celts had meekly surrendered 5-2 at Curzon Ashton a week earlier – but a solid performance saw them deservedly take the spoils thanks to Tom Allan’s first-half header. The win came despite Frank Mulhern’ second red card of the season ten minutes’ from time.
Farsley started the game the brighter of the two sides, Hereford ‘keeper Dino Visser having to stay alert to deny Andy Butler at his near post.
But the best chance of the opening 20 minutes fell to Hereford’s Dan Jarvis, who guided the ball towards the bottom corner from the edge of the 18-yard, but Max Dearnley got down well to his left sharply to tip it around the post.
But it would be Farsley who made the breakthrough and, perhaps unsurprisingly, it would come from a corner.
In the 32nd minute, Lewis Butroid delivered an in-swinging corner, Carlton Ubaezuonu climbed the highest to glance the ball on, and Tom Allan swooped in at the far post to head into the net off the underside of the crossbar.
Once Farsley took the lead, Hereford failed to react with any particular urgency. Their best attempts at an equaliser before the break came from two tame efforts from Colin Oppong and Ryan McClean, who failed to test Dearnley between the sticks.
If the first half was slow, then the second half began even slower. Both sides struggled to retain possession on a difficult surface, and the game grew increasingly cagey.
The lethargic visitors were largely forced to resort to long balls up to Oppong, but Tom Allan and Andy Butler – making his 700th senior career appearance – superbly dealt with everything thrown at them. They won everything in the air, and swept up excellently when Hereford thought they had found a slight opening.
With just over 10 minutes remaining, the Celts’ hopes of securing the three points would take a blow when Frank Mulhern was shown his marching orders for a raised arm.
And that would finally spark Hereford into life, substitute Jack Holmes coming close from distance as his low strike from 25-yards out was brilliantly tipped past the post by Dearnley.
Despite being forced to battle on a man down, the Celts shut down any last-gasp attempts from Hereford and held on for a very well-earned three points.
The Celts were without striker Jimmy Spencer, who has been linked with a move away from the Citadel. Mulhern’s suspension could mean the cash-strapped Celts are light in the striking department ahead of Tuesday’s crunch relegation six-pointer at bottom club Telford.
Farsley Celtic: 1. Max Dearnley, 2. Lewis Turner, 3. Lewis Butroid, 4. Bobby Johnson, 5. Andy Butler, 6. Tom Allan, 7 Dave Syers (c), 8. Chris Atkinson, 9. Carlton Ubaezuonu, 10. Frank Mulhern, 11. Kian Scales. Subs: Clayton, Ingham, Parkin, Assenso (Syers, 90), Morgan (GK).
Hereford: 31. Dino Visser, 5. Zac Lilly, 6. Kane Thompson-Sommers, 7. Ryan McLean, 8. Ryan Lloyd (c), 10. Harry Pinchard, 16. Orrin Pendley, 20. Dan Jarvis, 30. Levi Andoh, 34. Colin Oppong, 36. Thierry Latty-Fairweather. Subs Hodgkiss, Derricott, Hanson, Klukowski, Holmes.
Man of the match: Tom Allan
Boss Russ Wilcox praised the Celts’ “dogged effort, application and a will to win” and hailed their solid defensive performance.
The result was too much for Hereford boss Josh Gowling, who left the club by mutual consent on Sunday.
In an interview with Hereford club media after the game Gowling said his side had expected to come to Farsley and win but bemoaned his side’s lack of fire power: