Thursday, 13 March 2014

Retford United 1 v Sheffield FC 0 - NMU19L

Stephen Muff - Sheffield Club's official chip butty tester
Thursday 13th March 2014,
at Jones & Co. Stadium (AKA Cannon Park)
North Midland U19 League Division 1
Retford United U19 (1) 1
Jack Ward 42
Sheffield FC U19 (0) 0
Admission £2, programme £1
Photo courtesy of Ben Webster (Sheffield Club photographer)
Retford United U19:
Fuller, Beevers (c), Swannack, Tong, Farn, K. Wesley, Colman, Shepherd, Ward, Booth, Hutchinson
Subs - Sims, Tunnard, Sharpe, S. Wesley, Armstrong
Sheffield FC U19:
Green, Shirley, Lumley, Nicholls. Pugh, Whittaker (c), Pemberton, Rogers, Fereday, McKenzie, Barnsley
Subs - Wharam Bowland White Torr
Photo courtesy of Ben Webster (Sheffield Club photographer)
A new look Retford United U19 team, trimmed down to the bare bones recently, after unloading quite a few of this season's catchment of players, withstood a lot of pressure tonight, against the reigning NMU19L Division 1 champions Sheffield FC.
The young Badgers only had one league point on the board prior to tonight's game and, ironically, that had come from a 2-2 draw against Sheffield at the Wagon & Horses ground back in October.
Somewhat against the run of play United took the lead on 42 minutes after Jack Booth had intercepted the ball in midfield and drilled it forward, to where Joe Colman's running created an opportunity for Jack Ward, who made a yard of space for himself and thumped the ball into the back of the net past Joe Green, who had been relatively untroubled prior to the opening (and only) goal of the game.
As per the first forty five minutes, Retford put in a gritty, backs to the wall, rearguard performance after the break too ... and Sheffield must've been wondering if the home side's goal was protected by some kind of force field, by the time the game had finished.
Max Pemberton thought he had headed home Club's equaliser, but the ball was cleared off the line and the visitors captain Tim Whittaker had a perfectly good goal chalked off for offside shortly afterwards, when he finally broke United's resistance, heading home a free kick from out on the right flank.
Quite how Whittaker could have been offside when there were Retford players guarding both posts, is anyone's guess, but just maybe, given that we are now halfway through March, a little bit of luck, finally going Retford's way, is long overdue.
Sheffield were guilty of squandering a couple of really good chances right at the death and the Badgers held on to claim all three points, through a performance steeped in dogged determination, hard graft and 'never say die' effort and commitment. 
It wasn't always pretty, but it was effective.
FT Retford United U19 1v Sheffield FC U19 0
Photo courtesy of Ben Webster (Sheffield Club photographer)
One thing, that I felt needed mentioning, was that the referee, Mr Medhi Najefi, appeared to have a personal feud running, against Sheffield's Keenan McKenzie-Grey all night ... and he seemed genuinely pleased to give every single decision possible against the visitors number 10.
That isn't just the view of this neutral scribe either. 
The Badgers fans that I watched the second half with wholeheartedly agreed with me too.
Closing thought ... including the cup game v Radford (a 6-0 victory) that's two home wins on the bounce for Retford United U19's now; "Fortress Cannon Park" anyone?