Town have to dust themselves down after their 10 men were disappointingly beaten 2-0 yesterday to 5th place Emley at the Bannister Prentice stadium.
On the back of a solid showing seeing them beat Yorkshire Amateur 3-0 midweek, Garforth headed into another crucial tie at home to Emley knowing a win was ideally required to keep in sight of a 2nd place finish.
With the visitors having an impressive season of their own, arriving in Garforth just 7 points behind Town with 3 games in hand, Town had everything to play for.
A contested start to the game had the sides level after the opening 10 minutes, as Garforth battled to keep possession and Emley attempted to play a few dangerous looking but untroubling balls into the area.
Possession continued to exchange between the teams with play mostly being held in Garforth’s half, but Emley were unable to create themselves a chance.
The first real effort on goal came when Emley’s Iyrwah Gooden chested down a ball on the edge of the box that was then struck on the half volley by Alex Metcalfe, but his effort never stopped rising and didn’t cause any issues for Toby Wells in the Garforth net.
Shortly after in the 16th minute Emley took the lead through Jacob Kelly, as he was played in behind the Garforth defence down the right flank. The winger smashed a near post effort from just outside the 6-yard box into the roof of the net.
Garforth had started slowly and although they hadn’t needed to deal with any real danger prior to the opener, Emley were much the better side of the opening 20 minutes.
Emley’s James Knowles picked up a nasty cut to the back of the head following a coming together with James Burgess in the 24th minute, but the centre half managed to carry on following treatment.
Donae Lawrence was brought down when trying to burst through on goal by Dexter Ball, resulting in the defender being booked for his troubles. A free kick was awarded in a good area, but former Town player Paul Walker fired straight into the wall.
With 30 minutes gone Garforth had started to grow into the game, focusing play down the left wing with Charlie Marshall, but still the Miners struggled to create a clear-cut chance.
Town were lucky to not find themselves 2-0 down after 34 minutes when Ross Hardaker’s corner led to a goalmouth scramble that was fortunately hooked away before the ball found its way in.
Hardaker’s set pieces began proving to be an issue when another long ball from a freekick nearly picked out an unmarked Iyrwah Gooden in the Garforth area.
In the 38th minute a nasty foul that took down Nick Thompson gave Garforth a freekick in a very inviting area just left of the D, which was stood over by Charlie Marshall. His low curling effort towards the bottom right corner looked to be in for all the world but it was met with a fine save by Declan Lambton. It was Town’s first effort on target, after a good defensive display to that point from Emley to keep Town quiet.
And with that the half closed out with Garforth 1-0 down in what had been a substandard half from Paul Marshall’s men, and although there was an improvement in the final 15 minutes a big step up was required get themselves back into the match.
The second period began and Garforth opened well, controlling the ball and playing a few testing passes through the middle trying to thread James Burgess in behind.
With 51 minutes played Burgess picked up the next booking of the game after he arrived late to a loose ball and slammed into Lambton between the sticks for Emley.
That seemed to kick a bit of life into a previously still game as tempers started to flare between the players with a number of tackles flying in on each side of the pitch. A yellow card was later produced for Donae Lawrence for his tackle on Jamie Barkway.
Toby Wells produced a brilliant save with 56 minutes gone to prevent Iyrwah Gooden’s low drive flashing across the goal and into the bottom corner.
Paul Marshall then opted for a double change on the 60 minute mark that saw Sam Omosebi and Duke Witter exchanged for Luis Da Silva and Sam Leach respectively.
A great ball in from Jacob Kelly to Donae Lawrence really should've seen Emley’s lead doubled as the striker’s free header narrowly looped past the top right corner, with Wells’ looking to be beaten.
After 65 minutes played Town’s fortunes took a turn, as Dexter Ball received a second yellow card and was sent back to the changing rooms for a late tackle making things ever more difficult.
Garforth made their next change with 71 minutes gone with Liam Woods being swapped for Sam Denton, as Paul Marshall looked to roll the dice with the hopes of his side still salvaging something.
An Emley counterattack nearly sealed the deal but Callum Charlton, who was clean through on goal, couldn’t quite get a good enough connection to stab the ball past out rushing Toby Wells.
By this time it felt as if it was not to be Garforth’s day, as the home side had attacked relentlessly throughout the second half but it was yet to amount to anything notable.
Toby Wells produced another great save at the end of normal time to stop a powerful half volley from outside the area flying in.
Emley sat back and absorbed all of Garforth’s pressure late on providing no way through for Town’s attackers.
Frustratingly, Garforth’s fate was finally sealed as Alex Metcalfe was played into the area and calmly rolled the ball in past Toby Wells to make it 2-0 to Emley with just about the last kick of the game.
An unfortunate result for Garforth in such a crucial fixture, who just didn’t have the rub of the green on this particular afternoon. Emley have their impressive back line to thank for their efforts in neutralising more or less every single opportunity Garforth tried to create for themselves.
Garforth didn’t play particularly poorly as such but found themselves unlucky to play a quality side in excellent form, who dealt with the Miners more than adequately. Toby Wells can hold his head high as were it not for his efforts between the sticks it's safe to say the result would not have been determined as late as it was.
Everything is still up in the air between now and the end of the league season however so Garforth need to pick themselves up and go again.