Garstang FC 2-5 AFC Darwen
North West Counties Division One North
For the second week in a row, The First Team was playing a team one place above them and this being another early 6 pointer.
Darwen came into the game with 5 players out through Injury, Suspension or being away. Even on the day of the game we had a player not turn up due to work commitments. We had to draft players in at the last minute just to fill the bench.
The game started scrappy on a small and very muddy pitch. The ball didn’t appear to run and was not a surface to be able to play good football on. Both teams began the game the same way, using the full backs and playing it down the channels to the forwards.
Darwen had started slowly in games in the last few weeks, going behind early on and then playing catch up. This game was to go the same way but instead of going behind in the first few minutes, Darwen held on to the 15th minute before Garstang broke the deadlock. Some sloppy defending at the back led to the opening goal by Harry Garstang to fire home and give the hosts the lead. Just like the week before, Darwen hit back immediately. Another defensive mistake allowed Jamie Edwards to run clear and hold off his man. He managed to lift the ball over the keeper and it slowly rolled over the line into the bottom right corner.
Darwen at this point were having the majority of the possession but finding it hard to get the ball through. Another mistake at the back allowed Garstang to take the lead again on 24 minutes. The ball was played long down the left channel and a Darwen player dived in to nick the ball, however, he missed it and Andrew Murphy cut inside and hit the ball from the edge of the area into the bottom left corner.
Again, Darwen had to chase the game just like in previous weeks. Like the week before, it was not long until Darwen were back on level terms. A ball was played long to Ryan Steele who took the ball into the area; he held off his man and took a touch which the defender tried to take from him. This led to Steele going to ground under the challenge and left the referee with no option to give a penalty. Ryan Steele then picked himself up and took the spot kick; he dispatched it with ease sending the keeper the wrong way. Two goals a piece and only 30 minutes had been played. At this point Darwen changed their formation from a 3-5-2 to a 4-3-3 to stop the ball being played into the channel. This seemed to spark the players into life and they started to work with each other, playing the ball in small triangles much easier.
Just before the stroke of half time, Darwen thought they had taken the lead when Leon Creech had the ball in the corner, he sent over a stunning low cross and Jamie Edwards came from behind his man to find the back of the net. Unfortunately the Linesman had his flag up. Was this going to be one of those days were again we did not get the rub of the green.
Half Time 2-2
Darwen made a change at half time bringing Leighton Jones into the left back position for Danny Ashburner.
Darwen came out in the second half a different team to what we had seen in those previous games. They had belief again, they looked sharper and with more energy.
Darwen took the lead just a couple of minutes into the half. Some brilliant work in the middle of the park by Ben Langford started a move that fell to Leon Creech. He looked to get a yard on the defender. At one point it was as though he was going to keep running away from goal with it, he then hit the ball across the goal and it found the back of the net. A lead and a good feeling it was too. This spurred on the team even more.
In the 62nd minute Darwen had a two-goal advantage when the impressive Nyle Ellis again finished off a lovely move.
Garstang should have pulled a goal back when the forward found himself completely free on the far post and an open goal. He took the ball down and somehow managed to tap the ball into the arms of Lewis McPartlan in goal. A let off the Salmoners.
Darwen made a change with ten minutes to go with the returning Aaron Brown, back after a 7 month lay off, replacing the energetic Jamie Edwards.
The last 7-8 minutes where a very nervy time for Darwen when Garstang where awarded a free Kick midway in the Darwen Half. The captain for the day, Martin Parker, said something to the referee and he was given a 10-minute sin bin. This meant he would not be returning to the field of play and his afternoon was over.
This did not stop Darwen. Garstang began launching the ball into the area but the impressive Lewis was there to catch everything. It was his release that led to Darwen getting a fifth goal in the 92nd minute. Darwen broke clear and Nyle Ellis beat his man using brute strength to race clear. He slotted the ball home to finish the game off.
An excellent 60 minute performance from all the lads gave them their first league win since the away victory at Steeton on the 24th August.
1 Lewis McPartlan
2 Kallum Banks
3 Danny Ashburner
4 Luke Jarrold
5 Martin Parker
6 Leon Creech
7 Ben Langford
8 David Hamilton
9 Nyle Ellis
10 Ryan Steele
11 Jamie Edwards
12 Leighton Jones
14 Sam Knowles
15 Aaron Brown