Farsley Celtic lost out to a physical Alfreton side in a five-goal thriller which saw skipper Chris Atkinson play a club record 311th game and get on the scoresheet, along with his brother Ben.

The Celts were made to pay for a slow start to the game, and although they matched the visitors in the second half, they still fell short come the final whistle.

Goals from Day and Waldock appeared to put the visitors on course for a comfortable win, but a penalty converted by Ben Atkinson with The Celts’ first effort on goal in first half stoppage time brought the home side back into it.

It was Alfreton who started the stronger of the two teams. A great save by Leban with his right foot stopped the visitors taking the lead after just 24 seconds, but the incident set the tone of a first half dominated by the visitors.

Alfreton’s dominance – which had also seen them hit the post – was rewarded in the 23rd minute. Liam Waldock charged down a Farsley clearance before he unselfishly put it on a plate for Jake Day to give the visitors the lead with his 11th of the season.

It got worse for The Celts just six minutes later when Alfreton scored a second. Liam Waldock’s sweetly struck strike into the top corner followed a scramble in the area after good work from Digie and Day.

The Celts really hadn’t got going and were finding Alfreton’s press difficult to deal with.

Farsley earned an unlikely lifeline in first half stoppage time when the referee awarded a penalty for handball.

After a lengthy delay due to an injury to an Alfreton defender, top scorer Ben Atkinson confidently sent the keeper the wrong way to get the Celts back in it with their first real attempt on goal. It was also Farsley’s first goal against the Reds since 2020 and it led to the booking of Alfreton boss Billy Heath for protesting the penalty call.

The second half was much more evenly matched as The Celts finally got a foothold in the game, but chances were still hard to come by.

On 55 minutes the visitors restored their two-goal advantage when Adam Lund reacted quickest to score after his initial shot was superbly saved by Leban.

But The Celts again clawed their way back into the game in the 61st minute. An initial shot was blocked following a corner, and Chris Atkinson’s effort found the roof of the net despite the keeper’s efforts to keep it out. Game on again.

Soon after, Clayton Donaldson had a half chance which was blocked.

Alfreton continued to create chances as The Celts looked for an equaliser – and Leban made a superb double save three minutes from time to deny the visitors a fourth goal.

Deep into added time The Celts went close when a wicked corner by George Smith was headed narrowly wide by Tom Allan, with Farsley’s forwards unable to reach it and turn it home.

The result retains the Celts’ six-point lead over the relegation spots, and face a crunch home game against Warrington at The Citadel on Tuesday night.