Farsley were left in limbo as Matlock tore up the formbook with an excellent 2-1 victory at The Throstles Nest on Tuesday night.
It was young Burnley loanee Harry Limb that did the damage with two superb finishes either side of Nathan Turner’s equaliser for the hosts who began proceedings in the play off places, their only defeat in their previous nine outings coming against table topping Altrincham.
Having put Buxton to the sword at the weekend by a three goal margin, the Celts looked to add another Derbyshire scalp but they came up against a resilient Matlock who were good in both boxes. They defended with organisation and authority and when they broke forward with pace, Farsley looked vulnerable. In short, it was a fine team performance from the visitors.
Limb led the attack with top scorer Shaun Harrad missing through a sickness bug, Joe Doyle-Charles earning a recall after illness had ruled him out of the defeat at Mickleover eleven days earlier. Latest signings Joe Massey and Chris Marlon Ondong-Mba were on the bench.
With a slope and a stiff wind in their favour, Farsley burst forward from the first whistle and Matlock remained stuck in their own half for much of the opening quarter of the contest. Twenty yard strikes from attacking full backs Lewis Turner and Isaac Baldwin flew high and wide respectively before Phil Barnes comfortably held a header from Ben Atkinson.
It was fifteen minutes before Matlock found their first shot, a sliced long range effort from Kieron Wallace dropping four yards wide.
For all Farsley’s early attacking play though, Barnes did not have a serious save to make , crosses being pumped into the area aiming for tall centre forward Danny Ellis but being efficiently and easily plucked out of the Yorkshire night time sky by Matlock’s current fans player of the year.
Then out of the blue on 22 minutes came a Matlock goal as Limb was beautifully played clear by Harry Vince and he kept his composure to shrug off a trailing defender and tuck his low shot confidently past Graeme McKibbin.
Doyle-Charles played a carbon copy pass to Limb shortly afterwards, the youngster being pulled up for fouling Kurt Harris.
Farsley’s Ryan Watson and Town skipper Adam Yates were both booked in quick succession, Vince and Doyle-Charles joining them in the second half, the latter now facing a suspension after his tenth yellow card of the campaign.
Matlock were rocked on the stroke of half time when from a disputed free kick, Ellis flicked the ball to Nathan Turner who drove firmly past Barnes from eight yards.
But the Gladiators lived up to their nickname with a positive response. Just eight minutes after the restart Limb outpaced a square looking Celts backline, latching on to Ted Cribley’s precision pass to beat the offside trap and again calmly drill a top class finish beyond McKibbin.
Ellis won a high ball to find Luke Parkin whose low drive was kept out by Barnes, this being the Matlock stopper’s first of only two significant saves he had to make. The second came on 64 minutes when he advanced swiftly to the edge of his box towards the left hand corner flag to block from Watson who had been found by Adam Clayton’s through ball.
In between those chances Jan Yeomans found Limb who rolled his shot into an open net, but the effort was disallowed through a tight offside decision against the left back.
Limb though would have deserved his hat-trick. Constantly playing on the last defender, Farsley seemed unable to cope with him. Although being off target with a couple of attempts, he was unfortunate on 61 minutes when Jamie Jackson headed down a Wallace cross, the ball getting stuck between his studs as he looked to apply the finish. Another effort ran narrowly wide after Jake Green and Jackson had combined down the right and with five minutes left he ran clear again only to curl his shot inches beyond the far post.
No nonsense defending was in evidence as Farsley threw men forward for a leveller, the hosts’ effort being in vain as Matlock battled their way to three precious and much warranted points, gaining their first win in seven games since the victory at Lancaster City on December 2.
FARSLEY CELTIC: 1 Graeme McKibbin 2 Lewis Turner 3 Isaac Baldwin 4 Ryan Watson 5 Kurt Harris 6 Adam Clayton 7 Ben Atkinson (15 Chris Atkinson 70) 8 Nathan Turner 9 Danny Ellis 10 Nathan Cartman 11 Luke Parkin (14 Cameron Murray 70) Other subs: 12 Paul Walker 16 Lachlan Quirke 17 Kyle Trenerry
MATLOCK TOWN: 1 Phil Barnes 2 Jake Green 3 Jan Yeomans 4 Joe Doyle-Charles 5 Adam Yates 6 Dwayne Wiley 7 Jamie Jackson (14 Chris Marlon Ondong-Mba 86) 8 Kieron Wallace 9 Harry Limb 10 Harry Vince 11 Ted Cribley Other subs: 12 Joe Massey 15 Matty Templeton 16 Harry Wood 17 Jordan Pierrepont
REFEREE: Connor Brown (Rochdale) ATTENDANCE: 141 BEST GLADIATOR: Harry Limb.