This weekend saw Farsley Celtic Women take a break from league action as we headed to Ilkley to take on Ilkley Town Women in the West Riding FA County Cup. It was a nice change to arrive at Ilkley’s very nice facilities after a couple of weeks playing in parks and with the sun shining, the stage was set for a clash between two teams aiming for promotion from Division One this season.
Things started brightly for Farsley, and we were quick to create chances with Olivia Wheatley and Vicky Robinson having efforts in the first ten minutes that we hoped were a sign of things to come although Ilkley were not without their early chances as well, but Leigh Bamford was on hand to keep things secure.
The first half continued in a similar pattern with golden opportunities falling to Shirley Murphy who was only prevented from opening the scoring by an inspired goalkeeping display from the Ilkley keeper who played for us last season as we were promoted from Division Three.
Halfway through the first half though, the deadlock was broken. A long throw in from Vicky Robinson was flicked on by Lauren Rigby with a header before Shirley Murphy rolled the defender and tucked it away with ease to give us a deserved first half lead.
Ilkley were not without their chances though and showed why they are part of the conversation at the top of the league with some particularly good play from their winger on the counterattack, but it was Murphy again who came closest to scoring next. A nice move saw her through, and the ball was flicked over the keeper’s head but it was a fantastic recovery run from the defender that saw the ball cleared off the goal line.
The rest of the first half was a sign of things to come as Ilkley started to take control, creating a lot of chances and even hitting the post directly from a corner but we held on until half time with a 1-0 lead.
Olivia Wheatley took a knock in the first half and was replaced by the tenacious Amyleigh Pearce on the wing and from kick off we started brightly with Lauren Rigby testing the keeper from range to win a corner but unfortunately this was not to last.
On 54 minutes the game was levelled by a well-made Ilkley goal. The ball was played out to their winger who stood up the defender, beat her with some handy footwork and smashed the ball past Bamford for the equaliser.
Shirley Murphy continued showing why she was signed by Manchester City creating a number of chances and working the keeper but was unable to regain our lead. Ilkley’s attack kept coming and a dangerous freekick lead to a good chance that was narrowly headed wide.
Another change saw Shannon Farmer come on at the back for Lydia Ford and soon after we had possibly our best chance of a second goal as Lauren Rigby had a great effort that came off the bottom of the post in an agonising moment for the Farsley bench and this was possibly the key turning point in the game.
A few minutes later it was Ilkley celebrating. A quick throw in towards their striker was missed by our defender and the one-on-one opportunity was clinically taken and was like a sucker punch for us to see ourselves behind after being in the game up to that point.
With a final roll of the dice, Celma Ferreira came on for Vicky Robinson to try and provide some fresh legs and energy into our tired midfield and we started throwing numbers forward to try and force an equaliser.
Chances came and went for Rigby and Brydie Greenwood from a corner but it was Ilkley who would have the final say as an attacking throw-in was allowed to bounce in the penalty area before coming off a hand to concede a late penalty. There was no doubt in the mind of the Ilkley player as she struck it well past Bamford for a decisive 3-1 lead with 5 minutes to play and despite two late chances including one cleared off the goal line, there was to be no comeback and it was Ilkley who progressed to the next round of the cup.
A disappointing end to our County Cup challenge but Ilkley were deserved winners on the day and the game was played in a great spirit. This weekend though we are back in league action as we welcome Brayford Belles to The Citadel as we aim to get back to winning ways to keep the push for promotion on track. We’d love to see as many of you there as possible to get behind the girls for the 2pm kick off.