BUOYANT Farsley boss Neil Parsley is hoping to see his side pick up three more pressure points tonight and then sit back and relax as main challengers Parkgate attempt to deal with the heat of the Northern Counties East League title race.
The Throstle Nest outfit have been the team to be shot at all season courtesy of the Conference status they enjoyed under their previous guise of Farsley Celtic, and Parsley is the first to admit they failed to cope with the pressure for a prolonged spell.
In fact, it looked to have cost them their title chances in their inaugural season in the NCE League when a run of six defeats in nine league games, culminating in a 3-2 defeat at Parkgate on January 22, left them one point adrift of the Rotherham side who also had three matches in hand.
But a month is a long time in football and while Farsley have gone on to win their next five games, Parkgate have won just two and it’s suddenly game on again.
It’s Parsley’s men who are now firmly in the ascendancy and a win tonight, when Liversedge visit Throstle Nest, will leave them seven points clear albeit having played three matches more.
Parsley said: “I had a strange feeling after the Parkgate game. I saw it as a turning point because we played really, really well and, hand on heart, we hadn’t played well leading up to it. The fluidity wasn’t there and the creativity in our play had waned.
“But we were really on it that day and we didn’t deserve to lose, although we did. Everyone said it was a must-win game and it was all doom and gloom afterwards, but look what’s happened since.
“We are now four points clear and if we can nail the victory tonight the pressure will shift massively towards the chasing pack.
“We didn’t handle the pressure well when we went through our sticky patch and those clubs could struggle to cope with it as well.
“After tonight we don’t play for 10 days and if we can get the win, and go seven points clear, they will have to get results in all of their games in hand. That’s not impossible, but the pressure will definitely be on.
“Liversedge will be a difficult game. We went there last Tuesday and they gave a really good account of themselves. They made us work really hard for the win.
“The standard of their performance belied their league position, but that is something we have had to put up with all season, teams raise their game when they play us.
“We just need to be professional about it, we need to be strong and we need to stand up to Liversedge. We need to show we want the three points more. Then we can sit back for 10 days and let other games take their course.”
Parsley’s squad is brimming with Conference experience and his big guns have really come to the fore in the last month to get Farsley firing on all cylinders again. Eighteen goals have been smashed home in victories over Winterton, AFC Emley – in the President’s Cup – Selby Town, ’Sedge and Hallam.
Veterans Gareth Grant and Simeon Bambrook both netted in Saturday’s 5-0 thrashing of Hallam, making it five and three goals respectively in their last five outings and helping boost Farsley’s seasonal tally in the league to a staggering 75 goals in just 28 games.
They have only failed to score twice in the Premier Division this season – in home defeats to Thackley and Tadcaster.
“Hallam came on Saturday, they’re bottom of the league, and they had 10 men behind the ball. We struggled for 50-odd minutes to break them down but once we did it was hunky-dory,” added Parsley.
“We are trying to play entertaining football, we have scored a lot of goals and I couldn’t ask for any more. We have a goals difference column of +42 and that is really healthy.
“When we all sat down in summer we had a battle plan to try and win the league and we set out to score lots of goals along the way. We have certainly done that and I hope, fingers crossed, it continues right to the death and we can finish top of the pile.”
Elsewhere in the top-flight tonight, third-placed Bridlington host Selby Town, Thackley are at home to Nostell and Brighouse entertain Armthorpe.
Glasshoughton and Pontefract are both at home in Division One, to Louth Town and Askern Villa respectively, while Hemsworth visit Worsbrough Bridge.