Toothless Farsley Celtic crash to Darlington defeat

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Photo: Josh Makin

By John Baron

Here we go again. Farsley Celtic face a do or die final day relegation fight for the third successive season after they crashed to a 3-1 defeat at Darlington yesterday.

The Celts kept Darlington at bay during the first half, but second half goals from Jake Lawlor, Aiden Rutledge and Cedric Main secured a crucial three points for the Quakers despite a goal from Ben Atkinson to giving The Celts hope to make it 2-1.

The result secured Darlington’s place in the division but means Farsley sit fourth from bottom and in the final National League North relegation spot, level on 50 points with fifth bottom Blyth Spartans with just one game to play.

If Blyth win their final game of the season against promotion chasing Brackley next Saturday then they’re safe no matter what Farsley do due to their superior goal difference. If Blyth drop points, then Farsley need to better their result to stay up. Either way, it’s win or bust for The Celts.

Yesterday saw Darlington complete their own great escape in front of a bumper crowd of 2,261. Second bottom and seemingly destined for the Northern Premier League at the turn of the year, Steve Watson and Terry Mitchell came in and have led Quakers to an incredible 12 wins in the remainder of the season.

Darlington were simply the better footballing side yesterday in a windspoilt game against a Farsley team with a patched-up defence and who had skipper Chris Atkinson as an unused substitute due to an ongoing hip injury. Danny Ellis, who was pressed into his first start of the season on Tuesday, picked up an injury in warm up and was replaced by Ryan Watson before kick off.

The first half saw Darlington edge play and create the better chances, without really testing Zan Luk Leban in goal.

The second half, however, was one-way traffic with The Celts struggling against the home side’s movement, while looking toothless up front.

The Quakers deservedly took the lead nearly ten minutes in when Lawlor out jumped the Farsley defence and his downward header from a soft set piece found its way past Leban and into the back of the net.

The lead was doubled on the hour mark when Rutledge collected the ball on the edge of the box before unleashing a thunderous strike into the top right corner, giving Leban no chance.

Farsley mustered their first attempt on target with 20 minutes left to play when captain Conor Branson’s glancing header from a set piece was saved by Young.

The Celts then found a lifeline on 83 minutes when Ben Atkinson found space on the right side of the box, before pulling the trigger and beating Young in Darlo’s goal to set a few hearts fluttering among the home support.

Farsley pushed numbers up without creating anything, and in stoppage time they were caught on the break. After a superb save from Leban and a heroic goal-line clearance from Assenso, Cedric Main collected the ball and smashed in Darlington’s third to put the result beyond doubt and secure his teams’ survival.

Farsley Celtic’s fate in National League North will be decided on Saturday against Buxton and The Celts will need a big crowd behind them if they’re to pull off their own final-day great escape for the third season coming. Tickets can be bought in advance here, or you can pay on the day.

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