Northern Counties East League Premier Division
A positive all-round performance from Garforth Town saw Paul Marshall’s men end a torrid winless run in spectacular style.
With both sides coming into Saturday’s game on a poor run of form, you would be forgiven for thinking today’s game might have been a rather soulless affair. Before Saturday Garforth were without a win in five games, and for their part Silsden had lost their last two. Yet on the day Garforth put in what may have easily been their best performance since their last win when they thrashed Thackley 6-1 at home.
From the first whistle, though, the fast pace of both teams suggested that the game would be anything but a soulless affair. The first chance of the day went to Silsden, whose No. 9 scuffed his attempt on goal having done well to break through Garforth’s back line. Unfortunately for Silsden, it was wasted opportunities such as this that ended up characterising their visit to Cedar Ridge on Saturday.
Otherwise, Garforth began the game promisingly, and despite top-scorer Sean Hunter’s absence were unafraid to attack and commit men forward. Charlie Marshall continued his excellent run of form with several probing runs at the Silsden defence, and an early chance fell to him after Garforth’s No. 11 lobbed a ball into the danger area from the right. Unmarked, Marshall’s good positioning in the Silsden box was unlucky not to be rewarded as his free header deflected off the crossbar and out.
Garforth’s No. 5 was forced off with an injury at around 20 minutes, and was replaced by No. 15, Alex Lowe. At first it appeared the break in play had disrupted Garforth’s momentum, but Town soon responded with a good spell of pressure on their already-beleaguered opponents, helped by one or two long throws into the opposition box.
Yet the first goal of the day was a culmination of several Garforth counter attacks. As Town poured men forward the Silsden defence left striker Sam Barker with too much space outside the box, who belted a screamer into the top corner of the net to make it 1-0.
This sudden turn of events seemed to galvanise Danny Forest’s Silsden, who responded by pushing forward themselves. Their efforts came to nothing, however, as Silsden’s attackers were constantly frustrated by the solidity of the Garforth defence. Their No. 9’s attempts to find a way through were stifled as he was crowded out by a resolute back four, who right until the final whistle showed little sign of giving way. It is testament to Garforth’s defenders that Town emerged from the game with a clean sheet, despite conceding seventeen goals in the past five games.
Granted, Garforth did suffer from some defensive lapses before half time. Silsden were rewarded with a corner after one of their few spells of attacking play, and surrounded in his box Town ‘keeper Toby Wells did well to catch a high ball in. Yet he came close to spilling his quarry moments later, saved only by a slow reaction from Silsden’s forwards. Despite this Garforth became more assured after the first goal as they began to pass the ball around ever-more confidently.
Garforth’s second and third goals of the afternoon came just before the 45-minute mark. After a long throw into the Silsden box, Charlie Marshall got himself on the scoresheet for the second time in two games as he fired a close-range shot home make the score 2-0.
After their second Garforth showed little sign of holding back, as they continued to pressure the Silsden defence. The next goal came courtesy of a venomous shot from Garforth No. 3 Sam Leach, which saw Town end the half 3-0 up. For today’s game Marshall had switched Leach from his traditional full-back role to midfield, and with such an inspired effort on goal from outside the box Leach demonstrated that he has just as much to offer in both positions.
At half time Silsden brought on midfielder Devon Ridley in an attempt to claw their way back into the game, and though Garforth started the second half less carefully in possession, they continued to create chances going forward. Appeals for a booking were waved away by the referee after No. 9 Sam Barker was wiped off his feet by a badly-mistimed tackle from Silsden’s Josh Kane.
All afternoon the only standout player for Silsden was their goalkeeper, who made some superb saves in the second half to keep the score at 3-0. The Silsden No. 1 deflected a curled attempt on goal with a fantastic diving save, and after a Garforth corner only minutes later the ‘keeper’s fingertips tipped away strong headed effort by Town centre-back Sam Denton.
Garforth were forced to dig in after 60 minutes as Silsden began to look more threatening on the counter, but true to form their back four held firm. Yet for their part Town continued to cause trouble for Silsden on the break, and if not for a lapse in concentration on two occasions might have added to their goal tally. Several sorely misplaced passes saw Garforth’s attackers squander these opportunities, but for a side that created so much all afternoon this was hardly a setback.
With roughly 15 minutes left to play Charlie Marshall was replaced by fellow winger Helmo Silva. However, though confident going forward, Marshall’s replacement found it difficult to fill his predecessor’s shoes as he struggled to hold his own against a physical Silsden marker.
The dying embers of the game were witness to not only some impressive Garforth counterattacking, but some bizarre incidents aswell. Town captain James Beaston appeared to foul his way past his marker before firing forward from the halfway line. But for the Silsden crossbar this lobbed ball might well have made it 4-0, as the opposition ‘keeper was nowhere to be seen.
Fan-favourite Curtly Martin-Wyatt was brought on after 85 minutes, which marked the striker’s 100th appearance for Garforth Town.
Otherwise, Garforth’s No. 11 make some fantastic runs deep into the opposition final third. A sprint almost the full length of the pitch that involved skipping past two Silsden defenders on the way made for Town’s last chance of the day, which rounded off what certainly was a much more interesting contest than anyone anticipated.
Throughout the afternoon Garforth showed the moments of quality that they have lacked in the past five games, a winless run which saw Paul Marshall’s side pick up no more than a single point out of an available fifteen. Yet on Saturday the team came together to produce a thoroughly convincing performance that was creative, clinical, and offered the opposition little chance to play. The key to being successful in any league is consistency, and if Garforth can replicate this kind of a performance on a regular basis they surely will do very well indeed.