The Celts recent good run over the Festive period was halted by Altrincham at Throstle Nest as Farsley slipped to a 1-0 defeat on Saturday. On-loan striker Dan Cockerline was sent-off in the second-half and shortly after the leaders in the EVO-STIK Premier Division scored the game deciding goal. Despite the loss, Celts boss Adam Lakeland was positive after the game and said: “We’re always disappointed to lose a game of football, certainly when we feel decisions have impacted on the outcome of the game, but overall I am pleased with the efforts by the players today against a very good Altrincham team.
He continued: “We spoke beforehand about ensuring we were more competitive than the last time we met and we certainly achieved that. The plan was to stay in the game for as long as we could and if we had the opportunity to get something out of it in the closing stages we would bring players on and tweak the shape a bit to try and cause them a few more problems. Losing Dan Cockerline and then the goal in such quick succession, it made things even harder and we had to delay the changes we wanted to make. Had we done it too early, they could have broken on us and gone ahead by two goals and with us down to 10 men the game is then gone, but at one-nil you’re still in it and despite the disadvantage, I felt we generated a bit of pressure on their 18-yard box in the final 10 minutes. Unfortunately, a few things didn’t quite fall for us and when we had chances to deliver balls we didn’t have enough quality, probably because so many were running on empty but I was proud of the efforts by the lads and am disappointed that we’ve come away without a point.”
The Celts boss though was realistic in his appraisal of the game overall, adding: “Don’t get me wrong, at times we rode our luck, certainly in the first half where they missed a couple of good chances and Graeme (McKibbin) made a couple of good saves, but we spoke about that beforehand and knew they would create things due to the quality of personnel they have in the top end of the pitch. Saying that, we created some good opportunities ourselves in the first half and when you’re playing against the best teams you really need to make one or two of those count as you aren’t going to get many. In the second half we defended well and restricted them to fewer clear cut chances, but we didn’t use the ball well enough which meant we didn’t pose enough of a threat in an attacking sense. There was an element of fortune to their goal as well, Kurt (Harris) tracked Hulme and had a heavy touch which allowed the Altrincham striker to pinch it, round Graeme and score. Kurt will be disappointed, but he had a good game against arguably the best striker in the league and I’m sure he will learn from that.”
Looking at the incident which changed the game, the Farsley gaffer had the following to say: “The sending off, having had the opportunity to watch it again is a very poor decision. Would the outcome have been different if we’d stayed 11 v 11? Who knows, but it’s certainly easier 11 v 11 than 10 v 11 and as I previously mentioned it affected our plan for later on in the game. The biggest frustration for me is that the referee told me afterwards she thought it was a yellow card and that it was actually one of the assistant referees who told her it was a red card for excessive force. The referee said she was too far away to make the call so backed the linesman. First of all, the referee should have been closer. It wasn’t a counter attack or transition, they were building the game from the back. Secondly, she pulled her book out as soon as she gave the free-kick to issue a yellow card, which is what it should have been, but their players used their experience, got around her and I think they certainly influenced her, which then resulted in her going over to the linesman who made a poor decision. The game was too big for the officials I felt and the Club have been badly let down. We will be appealing it and I hope the panel rescind this decision otherwise we will lose Dan (Cockerline) for three games, by which time his loan spell will have expired. It could be a very costly and ultimately bad decision for us as a Club.
“Whilst it is disappointing to lose in the way we did, we will take the numerous positives from our performance against the team that will win the league comfortably in my opinion and good luck to them in doing so. We now have to focus on what are huge games coming up against Grantham and Buxton and try to get as many points on the board as we can in the coming weeks.”
Updated 14:23 - 14 Jan 2018 by Robert Winterbottom