FARSLEY CELTIC 1 STOCKSBRIDGE PS 0 UNIBOND LEAGUE CHALLENGE CUP FINAL WENDY WALKER
JUBILANT Farsley Celtic picked up their first piece of silverware for five years last night – but they were made to battle all the way as First Division Stocksbridge Park Steels put in a dogged performance in the UniBond League Challenge Cup final.
Top-flight title-chasers Farsley may have been clear favourites going into the showpiece, but it was Steels who lived up to their name and enjoyed territorial advantage for long spells.
But in the end the extra quality in the home ranks told as Lee Sinnott's men made it count with the only goal of the game.
Steels keeper Steve Hodgson could only help on Simeon Bambrook's swerving 44th minute strike which nestled into the net despite the efforts of full-back Scott Lowe on the line.
Sinnott was delighted with the outcome, which gave him his first trophy since he joined Farsley in summer 2003, though he admitted his side were not at their best.
"I thought it was a bit of a low-key game for a final," said the Celtic boss.
"There will be times when we play a lot better and lose.
"But the main thing is the result and I am absolutely delighted for everyone at the club.
"It's my first piece of silverware since I have been here and I do believe you are judged by what you win."
Steels threatened after just two minutes when Danny Anson's shot from the edge of the box was turned away for a corner by Paul Cuss in the Celtic goal.
Farsley's first real chance came in the 18th minute when, after a series of good crosses from James Knowles, Bambrook connected with one but could only direct his header over the bar.
Celtic then enjoyed sustained pressure leading up to the interval.
Carl Serrant forced Hodgson into a fine save when his free-kick from 30 yards looked destined for the corner.
Kevin Sanasy should have scored from the resulting corner, but headed over from close range when completely unmarked at the near post.
Knowles and Bambrook then combined, with the latter curling a shot wide of the mark. But the Celtic number nine was not to be denied and carved out the next opening for himself which resulted in the winner just seconds before the break.
It was the perfect time to score for the Celts – and the worst to concede for the visitors, though there was no sign of despondency in the Steels side after the turnaround.
In fact, Stocksbridge started the second half the better and should have levelled matters three minutes in. Serrant's sliced clearance bombed up into the air but Steels substitute Michael Blythen headed wide with the goal at his mercy.
Carl Smith then headed straight at Cuss in the 63rd minute, before Blythen missed another glorious chance when he placed his shot wide of the mark after being played through by Anson.
With the miss went Stocksbridge's hopes of forcing extra-time, while Farsley will now be hoping, after waiting five years for a cup, two come at once.
Sinnott's men face Harrogate Town next Wednesday in the final of the West Riding County Senior Cup – the last trophy they won back in 2001.
FARSLEY: Cuss, Stabb, Pemberton (Dugdale 85), Krief, Serrant, Shields, Watson, Iqbal, Bambrook (Bett 73), Sanasy, Knowles. Sub (not used): Stamer.
STOCKSBRIDGE: Hodgson, A Smith, Lowe, Anson, Schofield, Colley, C Smith (Colliver 71), Hawes, Zoll, Ring (Blythen 15), Cockerill. Sub (not used): McLean.