Daisy Hill’s campaign in the North West Counties League First Division North drew to an end with a disappointing 2-1 defeat against relegation-threatened Garstang at the Plumb Factory Stadium on Saturday.

After visiting striker Harris Bailey gave his side a half-time lead, Daisy levelled midway through the second half when Ryan Talbot headed home his 17th goal of the season.

But 15 minutes from time, Luke Barmby headed home what proved to be the winning goal for Garstang, and Daisy manager Lee Hill admitted afterwards he was disappointed in his side’s performance.

“We never really got going. Garstang came with a little bit more will and desire to win the game, and they just wanted it a bit more than we did,” said Hill.

“The pitch didn’t help us as we are a team that tries to get the ball and play, and we had to go direct, and it didn’t really work for us today.

“But it was the same for both teams, and Garstang’s pitch tends to be heavy, so they are probably more used to those types of conditions.

“We conceded a poor goal and although we got ourselves back in the game well, and it looked promising for a while, we took our foot off the gas and then lost another really poor goal.

“Overall, looking back over the season there are loads of positives to take, considering where we were this time last year, but it’s just disappointing to go out on the last day of the league season on a performance like that.

“Our focus now is on the two cup competitions (Bolton Hospital Cup and Atherton Charity Cup) and if we can get into a final or win a trophy, along with a 12th-place finish in the league, you would have to consider that a successful season.”

With Garstang desperately needing a win to avoid finishing in the relegation places, it was always destined to be a keenly-contested game, and so it proved, with play swinging from end to end throughout.

Garstang’s first clear chance came on 15 minutes when a shot from Joel Darley just missed the far post, and then minutes later at the other end, Daisy had a shout for a penalty when Alex Dodd went down under a challenge in the box, but the referee waved play on.

However, it was the visitors who opened the scoring on 26 minutes with a well-worked goal. Barmby and Daniel Squires combined to play Thomas Graham through on the edge of the box, and he laid the ball into the path of Bailey who drilled a low shot into the bottom corner.

Daisy had the better chances as the first half wore on, with a Dodd shot beaten out by Garstang keeper Oliver Green, Dario Co just failing to connect with a Jamie Ramwell cross, and on the stroke of half time, Dean Singleton got his head on a Jake O’Brien free-kick, but the header was blocked and cleared.

The opening period of the second half saw Daisy pick up where they left off, with Co being denied in a one-on-one with Garstang keeper Green, before Basit Yusuff rounded Green to roll the ball into the back of the net, only to have the goal celebrations cut short by an assistant’s flag.

But Daisy finally made the breakthrough on 63 minutes when O’Brien curled in a corner to the far post, and Talbot rose above the covering defender to glance in a header from close range.

With news of latest scores elsewhere increasing the importance of a win for Garstang, they began to push forward and with 18 minutes remaining, they looked to have been denied a penalty when Graham raced through on goal, and appeared to be tripped as he took the ball round Daisy keeper Morgan Newns, but the referee was unmoved.

Newns was in action a couple of minutes later when he made a great double save from Garstang skipper Andrew Murphy, but with 15 minutes left the visitors scored what proved to be the winning goal.

A Graham corner was delivered deep into the penalty area, and Barmby leapt unchallenged to power a header home.

Daisy came close to grabbing an equaliser in stoppage time, when first Jack Berry’s header was deflected for a corner, and from the resulting kick, Singleton headed just wide.

But moments later the final whistle sounded, sparking noisy celebrations from the visiting players and their travelling band of supporters.

Daisy will now turn their attention on two local cup competitions to round off the season.

They host Tempest United in the first round of the Bolton Hospital Cup next Monday (April 22), and two days later Garswood United are the visitors in the semi-final of the Atherton Charity Cup.