“It probably wasn’t one for the purists,” Farsley Celtic boss Russ Wilcox said after the final whistle of his side’s 0-0 draw at home to bottom side AFC Telford United.
While the hard-earned point lifted his side to third from bottom in the National League North and two points from safety, Wilcox is experienced enough to know that these are the games you need to be winning if you’re going to avoid the relegation trap door.
And a tired first half performance in what could prove a pivotal game in the Celts’ season will surely have concerned him.
A point apiece was probably a fair reflection of the 90 minutes, but the biggest chance did fall to the visitors’ Kai Williams in the second half, and he will probably still be wondering how he didn’t hit the target.
Telford certainly looked the fresher of the two sides in the first half having had a free midweek, but chances were limited in the early stages, as they were throughout the game.
Adam Livingstone caught a volley sweetly but struck it straight down the throat of Max Dearnley, before at the other end Joe Young was quickly off his line to thwart Luke Parkin.
The biggest opportunity of the first period fell to Telford’s Montel Gibson 20 minutes in as he powered into the box and drove a powerful strike across goal, denied by a stunning one-handed save from Max Dearnley.
After the break, it was Farsley who looked to force the game open with the introduction of Dave Syers, which brought with it the Celts’ best period.
Frank Mulhern fired a long-range strike just over the crossbar, Joe Young had to be quick off his line to smother Dave Syers’ effort on the stretch from point-blank range, and Mulhern saw his lobbed effort cleared off the line by Harry Flowers.
But it would be Williams who had the best opportunity of the 90 minutes, turning his man in the box to find a pocket of space before somehow dragging across the goal and wide from inside the six-yard box.
There would be one last moment of danger for the visitors when a long ball sent Frank Mulhern charging towards goal, but Young and Flowers did enough between them to deter the Farsley forward, before Theo Williams’ attempt to head the loose ball goal-ward was cleared to safety.
The Celts – who have had four draws in the last five games – will be hoping Tom Allan’s injury isn’t a bad one, with the defender heading straight off to the dressing room after being substituted 10 minutes into the second half.
Celts boss Wilcox will surely look to rotate his small squad as his side’s relentless schedule continues and over the next ten days. They face tough trips to table toppers Kings Lynn Town on Tuesday, before Saturday’s FA Trophy quarter final at Gateshead and then a home match the following Tuesday against fellow strugglers Leamington.
Ross Wilcox praised his side’s commitment and togetherness and felt his side edged the second half. He was also pleased by three straight clean sheets at home but said his side needed more quality up front to transform draws into wins.
Farsley Celtic: Dearnley, Scales, Butroid, Johnson, Butler, Allan (Turner 55 ), Clayton, Atkinson, Ubaezuonu (Williams 78), Mulhern, Parkin (Syers 55). Subs not used: Jessop, Devine.
AFC Telford United: Young, Piggott, Flowers, Cameron, Burke, Ekpolo, Evans, Livingstone (Bood 67), Salmon (Williams 59), Allen, Gibson. Subs not used: Rowe, Moore, Daniels.