Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Retford United 1 v Parkgate 1 - NCEL Prem

Tuesday 25th March 2014
at Cannon Park (the Jones & Co. Stadium)
NCEL Premier Division
Retford United (0) 1
Gav Cooper 88
Parkgate (1) 1
Matt Reay 13
Admission £5, Programme £1
Team sheet 20p, Attendance 53
Photographs courtesy of Jon Knight - Thanks Knighty!
Retford United:
Barford (Hitchcock HT), Smith, Severn, Jarvis (O'Neill 83), Sanderson, Johnson, Stannard, Hadley, Cooper, Thompson, Muirhead.
Unused subs - Hutchinson, Swannack.
Reay D, Poole, Bond, Wragg, Reay M, Jones, Abdulla, Doughty (Dawson 67), Graham (Whittington 83), Preece, Langford.
Unused subs: Slater, Morley, Lowe.
Retford United's indifferent run of form since the turn of the year, has seen them slip from being outside contenders for the NCEL Premier Division title, down to 13th in the table.
Tonight's crowd of just 53, was their lowest gate of the season and with five of their seven remaining fixtures until the end of the season being scheduled as home games, you have to seriously wonder if the attendances will get any better in the interim, at a time when the club, more than ever, need 'a bit' of a boost financially through the turnstiles.
The visitors had by far the better of the first half and deserved to be in front at the break.
But, after the restart, the Badgers laid siege to the Parkgate goal.
And though the Steelmen almost held out to take all three points, Retford's efforts warranted at least a share of the spoils, which they duly claimed, inside the last two minutes.
Parkgate went into this game some 25 points behind Retford United, but having beaten tonight's hosts 2-1 at their Roundwood Pavilion ground, just seven days ago, they didn't look unduly overawed by that statistic and they were up for this game from the off.
Whilst the Badgers did a very passable impression of a team with nothing left to play for this season, who are merely going through the motions until the end of April.
It was no surprise at all that Parkgate took the lead on 13 minutes, when Matt Reay met Scott Preece's right wing corner with a thumping header, that Jody Barford had no chance of keeping out.
The home supporters who had made the effort to turn out tonight, grimly watched on as Parkgate looked like adding to their lead ... and it wasn't really until just before the interval that United came close to responding to the Steelmen's goal, when David Reay had to be alert to gather the ball from an aerial challenge from Danny Jarvis at the second attempt.
Thankfully, after their half time team talk, Retford came out and finally started to look interested ... and not before time.
Kyle Hadley pulled a shot across the face of goal and just wide of the post and Gav Cooper narrowly failed to find the equaliser with a close range header, inside the first five minutes of the second half.
Piers Bond came to the visitors rescue and the linesman's flag foiled a couple of dangerous looking breaks from the home side, as Retford grew in stature.
The majority of the game was now condensed into the visitors last third as Retford continued to press without being able to find a way to unlock a stubborn rearguard action from the south Yorkshire side.
With the Badgers throwing everything forward late in the game, it left room for Parkgate to manoeuvre the game away from their goal area for a short while.
Second half Badgers goalkeeping substitute, James Hitchcock (Barford hadn't come back on after half time, because he was injured), turned Danny Abdulla's deflected shot wide at the expense of a corner.
And Abdulla and Ben Langford both shot wide, as the counter attacking visitors looked to finish the game off.
After all of the possession and chances they had created in the second half, a defeat, especially by more than the margin of a single goal, would've been unkind to Retford United.
But, deservedly, with just over a minute of the scheduled 90 remaining, Kyle Hadley hooked a cross into the Parkgate box from out on the right flank and Gav Cooper headed home the equaliser, from roughly the same spot that Matt Reay had opened the scoring from in the first half.
On the balance of things, given that Parkgate were the better team prior to the half time interval and Retford were in the ascendancy after the restart, a draw was just about a fair result.
FT - Retford United 1 v Parkgate 1