By James Grayson (Twitter: @jamesAgrayson)
Silverware will elude Farsley AFC for a second consecutive season after the 3-1 Doodson Sport Cup quarter-final defeat at Matlock Town. For a campaign that began with such high hopes, the last eight Evo Stik Division One North games will finish with a whimper when compared with last year’s play-offs charge.
The change to a 4-3-3 system did not work and big-name new signings like defenders Rob Pacey and Aaron Hardy weren’t successful – both had left Throstle Nest by December. Then manager Neil Parsley had to cope with injuries to players such as Simeon Bambrook, Ben Jones and Mark Jackson.
However, while success has not been forthcoming, Parsley is already rebuilding his squad for next season. He has the base of a good defence in James Riley, Ryan Serrant and Matt Dempsey, along with youngster Rob Etherington (pictured above) who had a coming of age at Matlock. Etherington had to cope with Massiah McDonald, a player who Football League are looking at. The striker is a handful and Etherington made some fantastic tackles and showed huge confidence by bringing the ball forward himself at times.
In midfield, the deadwood has been cleared out. Robbie O’Brien (pictured above) is a major signing, having been the backbone of the Bradford Park Avenue for the last few years. Parsley also has classy wingers in Ryan Harrison and Steve Mallory along with Bambrook who is still a class act. Upfront, Gareth Grant is still banging the goals in, but key to next season could be the retention of Adam Priestley, who is on the verge of scoring 30 goals.
More quality is obviously needed and if Parsley can bring those players in, success will come and Farsley will win games like Matlock away. The cup clash on Tuesday night was lost in the first 20 minutes – James Ashmore and Lewis McMahon scoring.
But it should be said that it was a good performance from Farsley in the second half – a 45 minutes which were extremely competitive and provided plenty of entertainment for the 126 watching. The referee adopted an ‘anything goes’ rule with the official deciding not to punish stamps, diving alongside a string of incorrect decisions.
Gareth Grant scored a fine goal to bring Farsley back into the match at 3-1, a couple of minutes after McDonald had headed home Matlock’s third. But, as Farsley tried to find a way back, shots from Harrison, Bambrook and Chris Walton were kept out as Matlock held on to secure a semi-finals spot.
Farsley now have to take their second half performance in Saturday’s trip to New Mills as they look to end their barren run which stands at seven games.
Match highlights below: