Considering the snow and freezing temperatures, it was remarkable that this local derby was on but the pitch was firm and despite the temperature a crowd of 237 made the journey to the SoTrak Stadium -and what a game it was!
Tadcaster started very much on the front foot and could have taken the lead in the first minute when Olly Norman put Kieran Greenway clear down the right flank but there was nobody ready to meet his dangerous cross into the area. Nevertheless, we did not have to wait long for the first goal; Junayd Cassius Gill’s shot was parried by keeper, Harry Flatters, into the path of the advancing Sam Kay, who from 18 yards unleashed a low bullet into the back of the net – his first for the Club 1 – 0.
Garforth were quickly back, looking for the equaliser, but their first corner was headed away to safety by Cody Collins who then needed assistance as he went down after a tackle. Charlie Marshall was on the end of a free kick to the visitors on nine minutes but his cross carried right to the other side of the pitch where an unmarked Jordan Emery was waiting to blast it into the net. 1 – 1.
Albion dusted themselves down and went straight back into the battle for the lead. Olly Norman was yellow carded for a foul on Barkway as the home side kept up the pressure. On 22 minutes Joe Crosby won a corner as Tadcaster burst out of defence - Greenway’s curling ball cleared the Miner’s defence as Thirkell positioned himself perfectly at the back post to head home. 2– 1.
Greenway opened up the Garforth defence on 25 minutes when he collected a loose clearance and banged the ball back into the danger area but there was nobody ready to capitalise. At the other end ex Taddy Sam Barker cleared the bar from a tight angle whilst Charlie Marshall tested Joe Wilton without causing any trouble.
The visitors could not have come closer to equalising when on the half hour Connolly’s powerful shot from the left of the box looked all the way to be heading for the far corner, but a full stretch Wilton got a palm on it to deflect the ball onto the upright and back into his diving arms. A game saver!
With 5 minutes left of the half Barkway returned the compliment to Norman and was duly yellow carded himself. From the free kick Dan McDaid curled what looked like a certain goal into the top far corner but Flatters somehow got a hand to it .
The 2 – 1 lead at half time was a fair reflection of play but it was all very tight and end to end.
The Miners came out looking for another goal. Marshall had a chance on 50 minutes but Charlie Owen was on him straightaway to quell the danger, Crosby had a one on one with Flatters but the Garforth shot stopper was first to the ball. Sam Kay was clattered from behind on 64 minutes - Thirkell’s header from Ibrahimi’s free kick, a whisker away. Emery had a chance moments later but to no avail.
Josh Hardcastle made a welcome return for the Brewers on 67 minutes, replacing Norman as Taddy came right back into the match . Crosby had an opportunity to put the game beyond doubt but again Flatters got to the ball just in time .
Josh Brodella made his debut as Cassius -Gill was substituted on 76 minutes, swiftly followed by Joe Dixon on for Joe Crosby who had almost run his legs off. Garforth substitute Jason Davis blasted over from 35 yards whilst on 82 minutes Barker tried from a tight angle only to see his deflected shot land on the netting.
With Greenway replaced by Kitchen, Garforth were still looking for a way through but the Brewers defence held firm. Barkway was sin binned for dissent in the last minute of normal time whilst the five added minutes saw Joe Dixon close but Flatters did well to avoid further damage.
A pulsating match and a good win for Albion against the play off hopefuls which sees them 14th in the Northern Counties East League with games in hand against their nearest rivals.
On Saturday Tadcaster travel to Lincolnshire for the return game against Bottesford Town – the Brewers won the home match 1 – 0 back in August .
Priory Vodka Man of the Match Dan Thirkell
Wilton, Owen, McDaid ©, Thirkell, Collins, Ibrahimi, Norman (Hardcastle), Kay, Crosby (Dixon), Greenway (Kitchen), Cassius-Gill (Brodella), Sub Not Used Romero
Report from John Clothier – Photos Courtesy Craig Dinsdale