By John Baron
Ben Atkinson’s calm converted 92nd-minute penalty maintained Farsley Celtic’s unbeaten start to the season in an entertaining 1-1 draw with newly-promoted South Shields.
Substitute Atkinson’s late leveller – his second goal of the season – came after Clayton Donaldson was bundled over in the box. It cancelled out Lirak Hasani’s 60th-minute opener against a lively South Shields side.
It was a game which saw both sides squander numerous chances in front of goal, but a draw was probably a fair result.
The new-look Farsley side should have been on the scoresheet in the first three minutes. Celts’ striker Donaldson somehow put his shot wide from four yards out when it looked easier to score, following a good run down the right by Darren Stephenson.
And after three minutes Shields’ keeper Miles Boney denied Isaac Robinson with a diving fingertip save fas Farsley continued their strong start.
The visitors responded with a flicked effort from South Shield’s Paul Blackett, which only found the side netting. And only a great double save from Jan-Luk Leban in the Farsley goal kept the Tynesiders out from a corner on 23 minutes.
Everton loanee Laban continued his fine start to the season with another fine save on the half-hour mark, palming Aaron Martin’s drive over the bar.
The second half continued to see chances fall for both sides and it was the visitors who took the lead on the hour mark, as the ball was squared across into the box and Lirak Hasani produced a composed finish.
The game continued to be end to end as Farsley pushed for an equaliser and twice Shields could have added to their lead. Jordy Mongoy hit the bar but it wouldn’t have counted anyway as he was offside after Shields broke three on one. And Leban saved The Celts again when Paul Blackett was clean through.
Farsley were knocking on the door for an equaliser. Striker Stephenson shot straight at Boney when through, and the striker then scuffed his shot wide when he should have hit the target. Farsley debutant Jack Leckie then headed narrowly over from a corner as time looked to be running out.
But Donaldson was bundled over at the edge of the box as the game entered seven minutes of injury time and Ben Atkinson calmly converted the penalty down the middle to earn The Celts a share of the spoils and maintain their unbeaten start to the season.
The Celts are a team in transition and the new management team will have been pleased to see their side create so many chances as they continue to bed in a new playing style and so many new players.
They still look a little light up front as Donaldson and Stephenson find the right positions but struggle to find their shooting boots. The Celts will be hoping to become more clinical as they make the long trip down to newly-promoted Bishop Stortford on Saturday.
Couch Danny Ellis was pleased with Farsley’s fighting spirit following the 1-1 draw at home with South Shields:
Striker Darren Stephenson said South Shields were a tough side and likened the end-to-end match to a basketball game:
Jack Leckie joins the Celts
20-year-old Jack Leckie made his debut for the Celts last night – just hours after joining the club on a season-long loan from Championship side Hull City.
The central defender, who played for the Celts in the pre-season match against York City, has featured prominently in Hull City’s U18 side, playing 23 times in the U18 Premier League as well as amassing two appearances in the FA Youth Cup.
Chairman Paul Barthorpe said: “Jack played for us in pre-season against York and played very well and we looked to take him on loan then, unfortunately injury prevented this and now Jack is back to full fitness we are pleased to have him back for the season.
“Once again we have looked to the higher end of the league structure to obtain our loans, and have again looked to secure a long-term loan as opposed to short-term deals. We believe this gives us a better quality of player, and helps create stability and build team rapport as opposed to the shorter-term option.”
Director of Football Pav Singh added: “Jack is a talented young player with both pace and power and given the injuries and suspensions we have in defence will be a good long-term option for us.
“He played well for us in pre-season and is highly regarded by his parent club and our scouting network.”
Farsley have a number of injuries in defence, with Isaac Assenso and Lewis Turner yet to play this season and Tom Allan facing a three-match suspension following his sending off against Chorley on Saturday.