Saturday, 23 January 2016

Retford United 1 v Thackley 2 - NCEL Prem

Saturday 23rd January 2016
Toolstation NCEL Premier Division
at the Jones & Co. Stadium/Cannon Park
Retford United (1) 1
Adam Lee 15
Thackley (1) 2
Andrew Wood 45
Joe Brown 80
Admission £5. Programme £1.50. Attendance 65
Retford slumped to their fifth straight defeat in a row, an unwanted run that encompasses all of their games thus far in 2016.
They last picked up a solitary point in the NCEL on Boxing Day, in the Bassetlaw derby match against Worksop Town, which they drew 2-2 at Cannon Park.
It is a worry, for the ever dwindling number of Badgers followers, that today's reversal was the third of those five losses on the bounce, that United have succumbed to, after scoring first.
Obviously, the huge turnover of players that Retford have been forced to use this season, hasn't helped their plight one bit and it is testament to the management team, that in spite of all of the comings, goings and player availability problems, they are still plugging all the gaps that this perpetual exodus is creating.
Retford United do have a (hard)core band of followers, who are steeped in pragmatic realism and fully understand the situation at the club, and they're the sort of salt of the earth type of characters who would always go that extra yard (or two) as regards getting involved with fundraising events and performing all manner of jobs on behalf the the Badgers.
But even among those ultra loyal fans, the cracks are beginning to show.
They want to see their team winning more often and they need a more regular and loyal clique of players to identify with... not a make do and mend ever changing team, assembled from forever transient journeymen and 'one off appearance' space fillers.
But the trust that has been in short supply among local businesses after a few unsatisfactory dealings with the club in the past, is gradually being repaired and rebuilt... and though things are obviously much different around the Leverton Road based outfit nowadays, than they were when the Badgers were gloriously riding on the crest of a wave, while the powers that be at the time 'forgot' to put a few sovereigns aside for a rainy day (and it's been pissing down on Retford United ever since), the shoots of recovery are definitely beginning to come through, in a manner akin the those of the early Daffodils and Crocuses that are sprouting up along the roadside verges that lead to the out of town Jones & Co. Stadium.
In many respects, this season has already been a roaring success for Chris Sellars team, who were written off as relegation certs in pre-season, but are confounding their critics by actually holding their own in this league far more steadily than anybody would've envisaged.
And away from the field of play, though Retford United aren't entirely approaching the future at ramming speed yet, they are at least moving forward... at a realistic and sustainable pace, without the omnipresent presence of the massive debt that has been such a millstone around their neck over the last few years.
I can fully comprehend why a large percentage of the fans and local non league floating support deserted United not so long ago, but 'the times they are a changing' and the transparency, openness and supporter engagement at Cannon Park have come on in leaps and bounds of late.
Those who don't learn from the mistakes of history are doomed to repeat them, but the current carriers of the Retford United flame have found out the hard way about suffering from the consequences of other people's historical errors and will not be repeating them.
It's a shame that some of those who have held the fort over the years are not on board any longer, but rest assured, the people that matter know what they have done for Retford United and really appreciate the effort.
Of course after such a tub-thumping build up and clarion call introduction, the inevitable happened today and Retford United lost.
Joshua Branch, the Badgers goalkeeper had a very good game, which is a good barometer of how things went overall.
However, in spite of their loss, it was the home side who started the game well and from the off Mark West was denied a goal when Dayle Coleing got down to punch his fifteen yard effort away, and shortly afterwards Jordan Good skipped past a challenge and was unlucky to see his angled shot deflected past the post.
Thackley almost went ahead against the run of play when Joe Brown's left wing cross fell just wide of the right hand post, but from their next attack the Badgers cashed in their early dominance, when Adam Lee flicked the ball into the air on the edge of the visitors crowded penalty area and struck it sweetly on the volley into the roof of the net as it dropped. You don't stop those!
If some famous footballer, such as say: Pele, Johan Cruyff or the former Thackley striker Ian Ormonroyd, had scored from such a clinical and precision strike, it would get repeated over and over again, time after time on Saint & Greavsie, or Bob Wilson's Football Focus... but in the event, only those fortunate enough to be present at this NCEL Premier Division fixture can save this cherished memory to tell their grandchildren about in years to come.
The Badgers fans in the (care in the Community) stand, broke into the new song they've concocted by way of a tribute to their loyal club captain, who stayed at Cannon Park when many other players abandoned what they thought was a sinking ship at the end of last season.
Coleing did well to get his frame behind Mark Waters thumping shot as Retford tried vaingloriously to make good the spell of pressure they were exerting on their visitors, but then Thackley found their feet and began to get more (and more) into the game.
Branch saved bravely at the feet of Ryan Farrell and moments later, in spite of him looking at least three hundred yards offside, the same player was back in a one against one stand off with the Badgers keeper, but he (Farrell) took into account the linesman's inability to keep up with play and very sportingly blazed his shot well wide of the goal, to ensure that justice was done. What a nice man!
Once again, Branch proved that all goalkeepers are crazy, by going down head first at close quarters to prevent Andy Wood from scoring.
The game then switched direction again and Mark West's goal bound effort struck a defender and skimmed over the crossbar.
Outram's flag kick took a viscous twist towards the top left hand corner of the goal and only a last ditch intervention by Thackley's impressive captain Pat McGuire kept the ball out. The resulting corner came to nothing, but the home side were soon on the attack again, when Lee, positioned ten yards from goal, unselfishly rolled the ball back to Jon Roper who nudged it sideways to West, whose shot crashed into a scrum of defenders.
Joe Brown counter attacked for Thackley down the left flank and Bench had to tip his dangerous cross over as it was dipping just under the crossbar.
McGuire swung a low corner into the six yard box from out on the left, that appeared to go straight into Retford's goal, but in the event Andy Wood had actually turned it over the line to equalise on the stroke of half time.
HT: 1-1
After the restart, Jon Roper battled his way through the Thackley defence but the visitors managed to clear their lines at the third attempt as the final touch just wouldn't come for Retford.
Tom Dugdale found himself in yards of space in attack for the visitors, but his shot whistled just past the post... the one that the corner flag was attached to.
Good and Ward combined well just outside the visitors area and when the latter charged down Jerry White's attempted clearance, the uncompromising centre half flattened him just to make sure.
Outram's free kick was cleared at the expense of a corner and amid the ensuing goalmouth scramble West rushed his shot and put it wide.
Andy Wood fouled Outram in the build up as Thackley came back at their hosts again, but the referee missed it and luckily for Retford, Farrell scuffed Wood's cross over the bar.
Good delivered a great ball to the in form Adam Lee, but his shot from ten yards was saved well by Coleing.
Branch pulled off an equally impressive save at the other end as Tom Dugdale tested him from distance.
Dugdale was posing a real threat to home defence down the flank now and picked a series of holes through the Badgers rearguard, his left wing cross in the eightieth minute, picked out Joe Brown, who planted a free header beyond Branch to give Thackley the lead.
The goal knocked the stuffing out of Retford and you could see a few heads dropping after the Dennyboys second goal.
Dugdale was finishing the game with a flourish and looked hungry for another goal and he was only denied by yet another decent stop from Branch.
United piled up the pitch on a salvage mission, but their efforts were to no avail and right at the death, Branch was called into action again, when he turned away a close range effort from Jack Morrall.
Thackley had worked hard for the three points today and they just about deserved the win, whereas the home side had made hard work of throwing a lead away and trying to hang on for something.
Branch had played really well for the Badgers, but they really need to be more clinical in front of goal if they want to give their long suffering fans something to smile about.
FT: Retford United 1 v Thackley 2
Things could be a lot worse for Retford United on a number of levels, but, by the same token, they could be a whole lot better too. I think it would be fair to say that at this current moment in time they are at a pivotal yet transitional time in their club history.
Thackley for their part have never harmed anybody and are always a friendly club to visit, when all's said and done, you couldn't begrudge them the result today.
I wonder if there will be anything even half as good as Adam Lee's wonder goal on Match of the Day tonight? I doubt it somehow.