Saturday, 20 February 2016

Retford United 3 v Athersley Recreation 3 - NCEL Prem & Mansfield Town U18 v Bradford City U18 Cancelled as a mark of respect.

Mansfield Town U18 v Bradford City U18
It would be completely wrong of me to comment on the circumstances in which this lunchtime's Mansfield Town U18 v Bradford City U18 game was called off, while both teams were out on the pitch and about to go through the handshaking preliminaries.
So I won't elaborate until such a time as we hear from the Kings Mill Hospital, or the relatives of an elderly spectator who took unwell as the teams were coming out onto the pitch; any further comment about his condition at this moment in time would be wholly inappropriate.
All I can say is that it was a traumatic experience for us all and I can't even begin to imagine what that poor mans family are going through right now.
I was supposed to be going to either AFC Mansfield v Hemsworth Miners Welfare or Mansfield Town v Dagenham & Redbridge this afternoon, but after dropping off a couple of people at the One Call Stadium, I headed home instead.
Hence one long hot shower and a much needed change of clothes later, I ventured a few hundred yards up the road from house, to Cannon Park, in search of some thinking space and fresh air (Retford United have an abundance of both)... so apologies if my report from Retford United v Athersley Recreation lacks much substance today, I had other things praying on my mind.
One thing I can say about what happened at the Worksop Van Hire Stadium earlier on, is the that bond of togetherness and mutual respect that linked everyone connected to Mansfield Town, Bradford City and Clipstone FC, plus everybody else present, was extremely moving and it made for a highly charged atmosphere emotionally. I certainly had to pull over and take a few deep breaths on my way home.
There are a couple of people who deserve special praise for their efforts, but they will know who they are and they won't wish to seek any recognition for what they did, they responded the way they did purely because they are compassionate human beings and thoroughly professional people. It is a real privilege to be doing my stuff alongside them.
Football IS only a game and some things are far more important.
Fingers crossed, we'll be hearing some good news any time soon.

Saturday 20th February 2016 - Part 2
Saturday 20th February 2016
Toolstation NCEL Premier Division
at the Jones & Co. Stadium, Cannon Park
Retford United (2) 3
Christian Savage 8, 78, Adam Lee 32
Athersley Recreation (3) 3
Joe Thornton 14, 15, 22
Admission £5. Programme £1.50. Attendance 87
Click HERE for a Flickr photo gallery from this game
Retford attacked first, but Jordan Hardman found Eddie Hague to be a formidable opponent as they both went for the same high ball in the visitors penalty area.
Two evenly matched NCEL teams slugging it out on a sticky pitch in persistent drizzle, might not be to every football purists liking, but on a weekend when overpaid posers are being rested for games in the greatest cup competition in the world (and it bloody well still is!), because some clubs think the FA Cup is beneath them, at least what we had out on the Cannon Park pitch were 22 lads, giving their all, because they wanted to be there.
The Badgers took the lead the lead after 8 minutes, when Christian Savage netted when Adam Lee picked him out with a right wing cross.
Lee almost set up another goal moments later, but as Brad Johnson picked up his sideways pass 12 yards from goal, he was tripped and the referee blew up and pointed to the spot.
The Retford captain took responsibility for the spot kick, but his effort was turned away by Neal May who got down well to his left hand side.
The home side's defence (and supporting cast) then committed collective hari-kari and allowed the Penquins to p-p-p-pick up the pace and waddle straight through them, with Joe Thornton claiming a hat trick for himself inside just 8 minutes.
Thornton lashed home Jack Briscoe's cross to equalise, before passing his way through a static back four via quick passes from Ryan Smith and Declan Welford and nudging the ball home from close range for his second. The home side's keeper Jamie Davies had little option to concede a penalty on 22 minutes, after his team mates decided to have an impromptu game of hide and seek with him... and Thornton completed his triumphant trilogy of strikes from the spot.
Cannon Park's attendances have benefitted enormously
from the Rampton Hospital weekend release scheme. 
Jamie Davies came to his sides rescue as Athersley threatened to finish the game off inside the opening half a hour, with a good stop from Thornton before going in braveley at Ryan PLeasants feet after some good build up play between Briscoe and Martin Scully.
But Lee halted Retford's slide after 33 minutes, when he shrugged off a challenge and drilled the ball into the bottom left hand corner of May's net.
Welford skipped past three challenges, but as a blood curdling scream of "Too f***ing easy Retford!" filled the air, Davies managed to tip the ball round the left hand post.
HT: Retford United 2 v Athersley Recreation 3
Lee chipped a pass into the path of Johnson, who hit the deck under a clumsy challenge, but the referee was unmoved this time and waved play on.
Once again, Lee tormented the visitors defence, but his speculative effort from 18 yards, worth a go on a pitch like this, deflected wide of the target.
Jordan Hardman attacked the Athersley box from the left flank, but when his shot was blocked by an Athersley defender, Johnson knocked the ball wide from the rebound.
The visitors came good again and Adam Cawley looked odds on to increase their lead, but he hooked the ball over the goal and onto Leverton Road.
With 12 minutes to go, Savage rounded off a battling performance with his second goal to put Retford back on level terms, when he made himself some space in the goal area and planted the ball past May from ten yards out.
Adam Lee had the chance to complete a dramatic comeback for the Badgers with a free kick from 18 yards out, but the usually reliable dead ball specialist was closer to scoring in one of the goals on the training pitches behind the stand. He'll have worked out his range for next time though, eh!?
Thornton broke quickly into the box and rounded Davies, but James Finnigan had tracked back well and nipped in to clear the prolific Athersley strikers effort out wide at the expense of a corner.
The Rec laid siege to Retford's goal from the corner, with Davies saving from Thornton, Welford shooting against a scrum of United players from the rebound and Martin Scully's blistering shot taking a deflection onto the bar.
The Badgers nearly snatched a late win, when Finnigan picked out Johnson with a long cross, but he put the ball agonisingly wide of the upright.
FT: Retford United 3 v Athersley Recreation 3
A good old fashioned rough and tumble on a rapidly deteriorating pitch, that looked a real gooey mess come full time.
These two teams are only separated by a solitary point in the league table and that showed today.
Hard work, honest endeavour and mud, mud. glorious mud, never hurt anyone.
Retford's next game is away at Parkgate on Saturday, while Athersley don't have another game until March 5th when they entertain Cleethorpes Town.