After a disappointing result in the County Cup at Ilkley last time out, Farsley Celtic Women were looking to get back to winning ways as they returned to league action at home to Brayton Belles.
After a few disappointing results in a row, it was time for a change as Head Coach Matt Jackson introduced a new 4-2-3-1 formation which had been worked on heavily in training and received its first outing against a Brayton Belles side who travelled in great numbers.
It was Brayton who started brightest from the kick off with Farsley goalkeeper Leigh Bamford forced into an early save which she made confidently to settle any potential pre-match nerves, but from here we started to build into the game with some strong passing and movement supporting the swap to 4 at the back.
There was an element of snatching at chances in the early stages as Vicky Robinson hit one straight at the keeper and Lauren Rigby’s hopeful 35 yard strike was easily claimed while the strong Brayford defenders were winning the early battle with our striker Evie Smith.
When you have a player as talented as Shirley Murphy in your team, you always have chances to create something and after a couple of sights on goal, it was Murphy who broke the deadlock with a nice finish that provided a sense of relief for the bench and the supporters alike.
Matt Jackson wanted to press this advantage and made an early change by replacing Evie Smith and Olivia Wheatley with Georgia Bull and Rachel Dean who offered more physicality to fight against the Belles’ defenders and both players were soon combined with Rachel’s work down the wing allowing a lovely delivery into Bull who won a corner.
Brayton were not without chances in the first half though and a rapid counterattack needed Leigh Bamford to be at her most alert to palm the shot away and defend the clean sheet.
As the first half was coming to an end, we were able double our lead as Vicky Robinson, who was free to push forward because of the new formation, able to get on the end of a ball into the middle and give us the 2-0 lead going into half time.
So far, so good for the Celts and the second half simply needed more of the same to see us back to winning ways. The start of the second half was a feistier affair with free kicks being conceded by both sides and play starting to be stretched.
Changes were made with Lauren Rigby coming off for Amyleigh Pearce and the injection of pace helped stretch the defence and create some space for Shirley Murphy to score from 25 yards with a wonderful strike of the ball.
This was not the end of the Shirley Murphy show as she wrapped up her hat trick just five minutes later after a lovely run and some top-tier footwork that were a true wow-factor in the overall performance.
You’d be forgiven for thinking she had done enough but the final goal of the day was again scored by Shirley Murphy who capitalised after a lovely bit of work on the wing by Rachel Dean who was brought down in the box with the ball falling at the feet of the prolific Murphy who finished her afternoon’s work with 4 goals and a well earned ovation when leaving the field after taking a knock.
With the game reaching it’s climax, Jackson rolled the dice and we saw Wheatley and Smith return to the field to test the tiring defence with their pace and although we created a few more chances, it finished 5-0 and a fully deserved win that puts us just two points off the top of the league with over half the season still to play.
In his post-match interview Matt Jackson was ‘over the moon with them today, we got down early, did some work on the board and some work on the pitch with the new formation. I thought they took to it really well, it suits our style of football as well and we managed to get the ball around today, not too many balls flying through the air.’
Player of the match was defender Kathryn Raw who was rock solid at the back and was awarded the House of Wine Player of the Match award. Kathryn said ‘I think it went really well, there’s been a lot of talk about changing formation… and I think it was just a great game to watch as well. I was really surprised (to receive the award) but I really love playing that position and we’ve got such strong people at the back it felt really safe.’
The action keeps coming for The Celts as this weekend they are back in action away to Ackworth Girls at Oakfield Park School on Sunday the 29th of October