Farsley Celtic produced a stunning comeback to defeat title challengers Shaw Lane 4-2 in a fantastic start to 2018, writes THOMAS RITCHIE.
A Nathan Cartman brace and strikes from Danny Ellis and Dan Cockerline saw Farsley complete the turnaround after Damien Reeves and Paul Clayton had fired Shaw Lane into an early 2-0 lead.
Shaw Lane looked to assert their dominance early on, and would have been in front if not for a stunning Graeme McKibbin save from Damien Reeves at point-blank range.
However, the early pressure told inside the second minute, as two ex-Farsley players combined. Spencer Harris delivered a pinpoint cross to Damien Reeves who glanced home a header from the penalty spot.
Shortly after the hosts should have levelled, with Dan Cockerline crossing to Nathan Cartman who had his shot deflected into the grateful arms of Ed Wilczynski.
Cockerline should have then scored himself. Cartman chested the ball down to Ryan Watson, his pass found Cockerline but his tame shot was straight at Wilczynski.
Farsley suffered a significant blow after just 12 minutes as the reliable Adam Clayton was forced off through injury, forcing a reshuffle at the back.
And within a minute Shaw Lane doubled their lead, Alexander Byrne delivering a cross to the back post where three players were queuing up to score, and it was Paul Clayton who was on hand to nod home.
Ed Wilczynski then made an excellent save to deny Nathan Turner, as his effort was pushed round the post following some good work by Paul Walker.
Midway through the first-half Farsley found a route back into the game. Chris Atkinson’s free-kick was flicked on by Kurt Harris to Danny Ellis, who volleyed home superbly for the centre back’s third goal in four games.
That goal gave Farsley a newfound confidence as they started to control the game. Nathan Cartman turned an Isaac Baldwin cross wide from close range, before on the stroke of half-time Harris headed on to Cartman who had an effort blocked on the line.
The Celts started the second-half on top, and Dan Cockerline was denied by Ed Wilczynski after good build-up play from Ryan Watson and Nathan Cartman.
Farsley then deservedly levelled, as Isaac Baldwin made a mazy run and had his effort blocked, only to latch on to the rebound and pick out Nathan Cartman who turned and finished sweetly into the bottom corner.
This sparked Shaw Lane into life, and they thought they had equalised as Paul Clayton headed home an Alex Byrne corner, however the referee spotted a foul which ruled out the goal. Graeme McKibbin then had to be alert to deny Alex Byrne, as he pushed a free-kick away to safety.
The referee, Michael Crusham, continued to play an integral role in the contest as Ryan Watson went down under what seemed to be a foul challenge in the box, however the Farsley appeals were waved away.
Farsley were not left to rue that decision however, as substitute Ben Atkinson launched a counterattack and found Dan Cockerline, who cut inside and fired home to complete the dramatic turnaround.
Chib Chilaka had Shaw Lane’s best chance to draw level 10 minutes from the end as he was played in by David Norris, but McKibbin made another crucial save to deny the substitute.
The game was wrapped up in the fourth minute of stoppage time as Ben Atkinson once again won the ball to instigate a break, this time finding Nathan Cartman who slotted home to seal the three points, just minutes after Shaw Lane believed he should have been dismissed for a reckless challenge on Ryan Qualter.
Farsley Celtic: McKibbin, Harris, L. Turner, C. Atkinson, Ellis ©, Clayton (Baldwin 12), Watson (Parkin 83), N. Turner, Cockerline, Cartman, Walker (B. Atkinson 68). Unused subs: Murray, Trenerry (GK).
Shaw Lane AFC: Wilczynski, Pollard (Payne 87), Gordon, Kelvin Lugsden, Qualter ©, Norris, Byrne, Harris, Clayton, Reeves (Chilaka 73), Walker (Rothery 54). Unused subs: Adabaki, Kieran Lugsden.
MOTM: Dan Cockerline