Words: Husnain Mahmood
Photos: John McEvoy/Leeds Shots
Farsley Celtic slipped to a second defeat of the season, as AFC Fylde ran out 2-1 winners in a feisty and evenly-contested tie at the Citadel.
It was a dismal start for Farsley as they conceded within the opening 30 seconds. Fylde goalkeeper Chris Neal sent the ball upfield, which was flicked on to Joe Rowley, who sliced his shot. But bursting into the box was Fylde winger Luke Conlan, who finished from close range.
The 14th minute saw a late challenge on Jimmy Spencer by Fylde’s Alex Whitmore, yet to much of the crowd’s bemusement saw Spencer receive a caution.
As the first half went on both Farsley and Fylde were strong in their challenges but it was Fylde who continued to attack. Jordan Cranston on the left side for Fylde continued to put dangerous crosses into the box which Farsley defended well against.
Growing into the game, which was now largely being played in the visitors’ half, Farsley had their first real chance midway through the opening period; the ball bounced kindly for Jacob Gratton, but he hit a half volley from outside the box straight at the opposition ‘keeper.
Minutes later, Farsley were presented with an opportunity to level after Neal came charging out of his goal and caught Frank Mulhern with a high boot just inside the penalty area.
Mulhern dusted himself down and slotted home the spot-kick, sending the Fylde shot-stopper the wrong way.
As the half drew to a close, a goalmouth scramble in the Farsley box turned into a coming together between both groups of players, with Andy Butler, Mulhern of Farsley, as well as Kyle Morrison of Fylde all booked for their troubles.
With the break coming at a good time for the referee, Farsley came out brightly in the second-half; Luke Parkin won a free kick in a dangerous position which Fylde dealt with well.
The game remained evenly contested approaching the final 30 minutes as both sides continued to attack each other. Sam Osborne made a mazy run towards the Farsley box, but saw his shot blocked twice by Andy Butler as Farsley cleared the danger again.
Farsley looked bright again as a free kick was won on the right hand side after some good possession. The ball was whipped in but ended up going for a goal kick as there was still no luck in front of goals for Farsley.
Fylde continued to press, with Nick Haughton twice trying his luck from outside the box, a low strike comfortably saved by Max Dearnley before he blazed a wild strike high and wide.
At the other end, Farsley tested Neal through Mulhern, whose free-kick from just outside the box was saved comfortably by the Fylde man.
However, with 18 minutes to go it was Fylde who took the lead, after a cross from the right was kept in superbly by Joe Rowley. He diverted the ball across for Nick Haughton to rocket home from close range.
The closing stages of the game saw Farsley press for an equaliser, with Kian Scales and Dave Syers thrown on, but Fylde were able to hang on for all three points.
Farsley Celtic: Dearnley, Turner, Butroid, Johnson (Syers 82), Butler, Clayton, Gratton (Scales 78), Atkinson (C), Spencer (Hutchinson 56), Mulhern, Parkin. Unused subs: Morgan (GK), Malumo.
Fylde: Neal, Whitmore, Morrison, Davis, Conlan, Cranston, Philliskirk, Patten, Rowley, Haughton, Osborne (Whitehead 83); Subs not used: Simkin, Obi, Bird, Holmes.
Manager Russ Wilcox said he was proud of an ‘outstanding’ performance against full-time opposition, and said it was The Celts’ best showing since he took over as manager earlier this year: