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HomeNewsFarsley Celtic secure opening day win at new-boys Rushall Olympic

Farsley Celtic secure opening day win at new-boys Rushall Olympic

By John Baron

Farsley Celtic got their National League North campaign off to a flying start with a superb 2-0 win at new-boys Rushall Olympic on a soggy August day in the West Midlands.

It was a complete contrast to the opening day of last season for The Celts when a sunny trip to rural Leamington saw Farsley crashing to a 4-0 defeat against a team which was ultimately relegated.

Farsley only retained four players from last year’s squad and have a new management team, playing style and almost an entirely new set of players.

Only one player who started last year’s Leamington debacle – Chris Atkinson – started yesterday (Tom Allan was suspended last year and Lewis Turner and Isaac Assenso are currently injured).

The Celts have been looking to bed 16 new players into their ranks (five in the past two days) during a summer of massive change. And yesterday’s performance, which saw goals from Ben Atkinson and Darren Stephenson, was a welcome tonic after a winless pre-season.

The Celts were dealt a blow prior to kick off when it emerged new striker Clayton Donaldson was likely to miss the next few weeks after being kicked from pillar to post in the final pre-season ‘friendly’ at Guiseley last week.

But the Celts put in a solid performance in an open and entertaining game and deserved all three points.

Tom Allan’s header hit the crossbar after just three minutes – and this set the tone for an open first half, where both sides had chances to break the deadlock.

Rushall responded with Farsley’s on-loan goalkeeper Jan-Luk Leban called into action to make an excellent double-save from first Callum Coyle and then Samuel Mantom.

Back at the other end, Ben Atkinson picked out Marley Blair in space on the edge of the box but the forward saw his shot tipped wide by Jake Weaver in the hosts’ goal on 20 minutes.

Farsley’s Slovenian Under-21 shot-stopper Leban pulled out another top save on the 27th minute, when he showed great acrobatics to tip Jake Gosling’s shot over the bar from close range.

The Celt Army came close to opening the scoring on the half-hour mark as Allan was first denied from a corner before Connor Branson couldn’t keep his follow-up shot down and fired over the bar.

The visitors came out clearly roused from the half-time break. And on 54 minutes Mason Wilson floated a ball into the box, which was finished by Ben Atkinson on his first competitive appearance since returning to The Citadel.

And the lively Atkinson could have twice added a second when he firstly saw his cross-shot palmed over by Weaver, then on 70 minutes he headed over from George Smith’s cross from the left.

Rushall began to have the better of possession as Farsley sat deep, but the visitors’ goalkeeper was never truly tested as the game headed towards its closing stages. Kristian Green went closest to finding an equaliser, but fired over the bar on the volley from close range.

A free-kick from Farsley’s Watson stung the hands of Rushall keeper Weaver as Farsley looked for a second. And the victory was sealed in stoppage time by striker Stephenson as he looped a header over Weaver and the ball crept over the line to spark wild celebrations with the vocal travelling Celt Army.

Next Saturday Farsley entertain Chorley at The Citadel, kick-off 3pm.

Line ups

Rushall Olympic: Weaver, Green, Hudson, Rowe (Nkalambi-Masidi 66), Brown, Whittall, Coyle (Sanchez-Tonge 66), Moore, Waldron (Carvalho-Landell 78), Mantom, Gosling.
Subs not used: Cameron, Shorrock

Farsley Celtic: Leban, Sheridan, Smith, C Atkinson, Misambo, Allan, Wilson, Branson, Stephenson, B Atkinson (Watson 81), Blair (Robinson 87).

Subs not used: Allen, Silva, Carroll.

Referee: T Swift

Match reaction

New head coach Clayton Donaldson said he was delighted by his side’s application and fight, which secured his first-ever win in management. He hailed the players who came in to the side having only signed on Friday:

Additional reporting: Mark Rawlinson.

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