Night to remember for FA Cup heroes Garforth

Garforth Town 3-2 Shildon

Sean Hunter put in a heroic display to help fire Garforth Town into the next round of the FA Cup

Super-sub Curtly Martin-Wyatt catapulted heroic Garforth Town to a major upset over Northern League giants Shildon in the epic FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round replay.

Sean Hunter and ‘superhero’ goalkeeper Toby Wells were the real caped crusaders for Rob Hunter’s men on a dramatic night. The Garforth manager’s son’s hauled Garforth back level twice during 12 frenetic second half minutes which concluded Martin-Wyatt setting up a nerve-wracking final 20 minutes.

The cult hero had only been on the pitch six minutes when he hit the winner. Jittery moments followed and a ‘save of the century’ from Wells was required to see Garforth over the finish line.

Fortune was definitely on Garforth’s side. Shildon’s Kurt Matthews was rightly sent off after just 20 minutes following a horror challenge on Matthew Wilkinson.

But even against ten men, the Miners were up against it. Shildon are a quality side. The visitors dominated large periods, led twice and had many goal-bound efforts turned away by Wells.

Garforth’s recent history contains more bleak moments than bright ones, and because of the competition and quality of opposition, plus the absence of key players, the victory has to rank as arguably the club’s greatest since the Skelmersdale United win at the bitter end of the great Steve Nichol era.

No-one, even irate Shildon fans, can begrudge that Garforth deserve a rare day in the sunshine.

The goal-less draw in the North East on Saturday was a major achievement itself, but this was something else – almost miracle-like. Captain marvel James Beaston was in the stands, injured. Marquee signing Adam Priestley remains away and only one established centre-back was available.

Throw-in that several of the Garforth heroes had nothing left in the tank by the end and would have struggled if Shildon had forced extra-time. This was some effort, with desire and bravery at the forefront.

The tie was breathless at times. Garforth’s positive start, which included Joe Colley hitting the post, soon faded as Shildon began to control possession. The Miners then lost summer signing Adam Porritt as Garforth’s stand-in Florence Nightingale Sam Crawford decreed that he could not continue. 

But out of nowhere, Matthews flew recklessly and needlessly in on Wilkinson by the home dugouts – almost launching him into the terraces – and was sent on his way for an early shower.

Wow, what an opportunity for Garforth against one of the best from the Northern League.

For five minutes Shildon were rattled and losing discipline. Manager Daniel Moore, who lost his cool after the final whistle, regularly ranted at the officials, while captain Ben Trotter was cautioned for a rash challenge.

But Garforth didn’t take advantage and once they regained their composure, Shildon turned the screw and went ahead Dale Mulligan’s easy low finish.

Garforth certainly rode their luck. Wells was called upon to pull off three brilliant saves in quick succession at the beginning of the second half.

The Miners looked devoid of ideas until the road to victory was found – as the period of three goals in 12 minutes began just under the hour mark.

Hunter gets all the credit for the first equaliser, but it was Dan Coupland’s patience that created the goal. Coupland, in his own half. exchanged quick passes with Sam Barker and Wells before threading it up to Mark Simpson on the left-hand-side of the attack.

The club’s greatest goal-scorer played a short tap to Turner, whose decision to swing the ball towards the right was exceptional. Hunter steamed in and did the rest.

Hope was briefly extinguished as Zak Atkinson headed Shildon back in front.

Garforth hit back straightaway. Colley’s pass sent Hunter scuttling away on the left. The youngster showed the class of an elder statesman as he sent a low strike into the net, with a little bit of help off the post.

If two-a-piece was a dream for Garforth, the next two minutes certainly were. Hunter was heavily involved as it was his desire to force the ball into Martin-Wyatt that enabled the striker, just on for Simpson, to score from close range.

The downside for Garforth was that the clock still had 20 minutes on it. 

Wells’ ‘save of the century’ came next when he somehow got down to bat away Atkinson’s header which was sailing for the bottom left-corner. From the resulting corner, Garforth escaped again as Atkinson headed against the crossbar from just yards out.

As the minutes ticked on, Garforth were clearly running on empty. To say Shildon were down to ten men for 70 minutes, they seemed to have tons of energy.

Ultimately the visitors did not take advantage. It was definitely tense, but Garforth found the right areas to wind the clock down. 

A night to remember for Garforth. Shildon can have no complaints, look at the shots count. They had their chances and they didn’t take them.

Garforth will host Colne in the Preliminary Round.

The Teams 

Garforth Town: Wells, Wilkinson, Buttle, Barker, Coupland, Low, Colley, Porritt (Slinn 12 (Silva 65), Simpson (Martin-Wyatt 62), Turner (captain), Hunter. Subs unused: Kearsley, Chippendale, Weatherill.

Shildon: Newbrook, Heywood, Robson, Liddle, Curl, Mulligan, Craggs, Trotter (captain), Atkinson, Steels (Reay), Matthews. Subs unused: Lavery, Palmer, Duell, Naylor, Wood, Mallaburn.

Who Was In Charge 

Lee Hible (10/10)

Mr Hible gave an exceptional performance. He showed huge restraint when others may have gone card happy. His handling of the red card was excellent, and he did not deserve the verbal abuse he received from the visiting spectators.

How Many Were There 


Man of the Match

Toby Wells 

Garforth Town goalkeeper Toby Wells

Wells is the best goalkeeper Garforth Town have had for a long time and his ‘save of the century’ must be one of the most important saves made in East Leeds for a while. It should also be remembered that Wells had to make a series of saves to keep Garforth’s hopes alive when the score 1-0 to Shildon.

Sean Hunter was the official man of the match, but NLY felt Wells’ saves edged it for us.

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