Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Worksop Town 4 v Retford United 3 - NCEL Prem

Wednesday 10th February 2016
Toolstation NCEL Premier Division
at the Windsor Food Service Stadium, Sandy Lane, Worksop
Worksop Town (1) 4
Conor Higginson 5
Mitch Husbands 65
Andrew Ofosu 68
Steve Woolley 80
Retford United (3) 3
Mark Waters 8
Adam Lee 17
Julian Lawrence 43 OG
Admission, pay what you want. We paid £5
Programme £1.00
Attendance 730
The last time these two sides met was on Boxing Day, when they drew 2-2 at Cannon Park, see HERE for details
Worksop Town:
Jon Kennedy, Lawrence Gorman, Phil Roe, Julian Lawrence, Steve Wooley, Ross Henshaw, James Cottingham (Mitch Husbands 58), Callum Harrison, Conor Higginson (Andy Ofosu 51), Kyle Jordan (Jamie Hadfield 87), Adam Ward
Subs not used - Jordan Hodder, Jack Waddle
Retford United:
Luke Scollins, Jordan Good (Emmanuel Igwe 81), Brad Johnson, Isacc Sellars, James Finnegan, Jordan Hardman, Roper, Mark West (Brad Gledhill 87), Adam Lee (C), Christian Savage, Mark Waters (Carlton Dickinson 90)
Subs not used - Mark Wilson, Jermaine Gordon
I think it would be fair to say, that even though you've got to admire Worksop for the way they fought back to eventually overcome their neighbours, the Tigers were second best for most of the night and Retford played them off the park at times.
Mark Shaw used his substitutes well and ultimately, that is what saw his team through, but the best team didn't win and although the Badgers will be gutted not to have taken anything out of this game, they can be immensely proud of the way that they took it to their title challenging rivals. 
Football can be a cruel game at times and it doesn't always give you a fair return on what you've invested into it.
The Tigers moved back to the top of the table as a result of their win tonight, two points ahead of Tadcaster Albion, who ominously still have three games in hand over Shaw's side, who definitely needed the points more tonight than their local rivals.
I like the Tigers manager, we get on very well, but... in all honesty, it needs to be said that 'Showy' was a bit jammy to get the win on this occasion, in spite of pulling a rabbit out of the hat when he changed things around in a bid to salvage the game. Retford were very unlucky.
But don't just take my word for it. I hereby present the title and introduction to tonight's match report on the Worksop Guardian website, written by their sports editor Graham Smyth:
The great Bassetlaw robbery: Notts Police are looking for a group of men in orange shirts, after one of the biggest robberies Bassetlaw has ever seen on Wednesday night.
I rest my case m'Lud!
Things looked bleak for the visiting supporters, when Conor Higginson drilled a shot past Luke Scollins after just five minutes.
But Chris Sellars side had travelled the short distance to Sandy Lane with a game plan up their sleeves and hit back almost immediately. Jon Kennedy turned Mark West's shot away to his left, but Jon Roper was well placed to lob it into the path of Mark Waters, who planted a text book downwards header between Kennedy and his covering defenders.
My travelling companions had predicted "6-1 to Worksop" and "at least five to Worksop", while I had gone for "a 1-1 draw", but the swines wouldn't let me cash out after just 8 minutes.
Laurence Gourman, the Tigers right back, making his first appearance at Sandy Lane, powered through the right channel and forced a save from Scollings, who held on to the ball at the second attempt.
Retford were stretching the home side all over the place in the middle third of the pitch, with an impressive fast passing game... and at times, much to the (pleasant) surprise of even their own followers, they were threatening to over run their hosts in midfield.
Kennedy had to get down quickly when Roper planted a firm shot towards his bottom left hand corner.
Brad Johnson attacked down the left flank and nudged the ball past Jordan Good to Christian Savage, who played a diagonal pass through the Tigers rearguard for Mark Waters to run on to and Kennedy pulled Worksop out of the mire again.
But there was very little that the ever reliable Worksop keeper could do, as Adam Lee's free kick skimmed off of the head of one of the players in the defensive wall and into the net via Kendo's outstretched fingers.
Worksop were starting to buckle under a wave of Retford pressure.
James Finnigan won the ball in the centre circle and sent the Badgers forward once again. Some frantic last ditch defending saw Retford gain another free kick on the edge of the area.
Lee's kick was blocked, but before the Tigers could clear their lines, West picked up the ball, exchanged passes with Lee and shot narrowly wide of the upright.
Retford thought they should have had a penalty, when Walters was impeded by Cottingham, but the referee was having none of it, despite booking the Worksop player.
Adam Ward missed two good chances as Worksop made good progress through the left hand side of midfield as they staged a mini-revival.
The Tigers put Jordan Hardman under pressure in the centre of Retford's defence, but he calmly took the sting out of their attacking intent and passed the ball forward without looking unduly flustered.
Johnson motored down the left flank again from Finnigan's slide rule pass and the Tigers were happy to see the ball out for a corner. Lee swung the ball in to the back stick and Worksop only half cleared the danger as far as Good, who hit a first time shot wide of Kennedy's goal.
The Badgers put together a great four man passing move across the middle of the park before Johnson broke free down the left flank again, crossing to West, whose shot on the turn struck the former Retford United centre half Julian Lawrence and ended up in the bottom left hand corner of the goal, with Kennedy going the other way to cover the initial shot.
HT: Worksop Town 1 v Retford United 3
It was great to catch up with Clipstone's Jas Colliver and Hallam's Ryan Hindley in the bar at half time, before taking up our position to see how the second half would unfold.
We bumped into Darren Shaw (Mansfield Town), standing with Andy Saunders and Rudy Funk from AFC Mansfield, who I'd only managed to chat to in passing last Wednesday, when our paths had crossed briefly elsewhere. We had plenty to discuss about their upwardly mobile club, including a possible (though highly improbable) plan to help the Bulls manager to stop smoking.
But I digress... on with the action.
United started the second half on the front foot and they won a corner out on the left flank from which Lee picked out West, who couldn't keep his shot down.
Worksop scrambled the ball away as Good's knock in from the right, caused havoc in the Tigers six yard box and Waters header crashed off the underside of the crossbar, where it dropped just over the line.
The referee said it wasn't a goal and regardless of the celebrations of the Retford fans, who had a clear and unimpeded view behind the net, it was still 1-3.
Err... what can you say?
Other than, there wouldn't be such a thing as football without the match officials. Players and managers make loads of mistakes on a regular basis and referee's are only human too.
The whole of the ball WAS definitely over though.
Retford Youth Casuals - "You'll never make the station!"
Waters almost added a fourth, but he took a layer of paint off of the right hand post, with a stinging shot from almost 30 yards out.
Johnson, who was having a great game for the Badgers out on the left flank, was stopped in his tracks in a time honoured fashion by Cottingham, who had already been booked, but Lee's resultant free kick dropped just wide of the far post without any Retford player getting the goal bound touch onto it that was required.
Mark Shaw sent on Andy Ofosu and Mitch Husbands within a few minutes of each other.
This, combined with the lack of goal line technology at NCEL grounds, proved to be the turning point of the game, although in the final analysis, Worksop were undeniably fortunate tonight, but resilient until the bitter end nevertheless, for which they deserve a lot of credit.
With 25 minutes to go, Mitch Husbands, who in my humble opinion is probably one of the most under rated players in Worksop's side, nodded the ball past Scollins to put Worksop back in the game and within three minutes it was all square, when Andy Ofuso broke in from the right and drilled a low shot just inside the post... and all of a sudden their was a noisy commotion in the ground, as the home fans let out a collective roar of sheer relief.
Retford FC were out in force tonight supporting their
pals from Cannon Park, please support their Friday
night fundraiser at the Elms Hotel if you can.
West and Lawrence came head to head during the goal celebrations in an angry exchange and with the home fans chanting "Off! Off! Off!" (slightly ironic to say how Cottingham had been spared such a fate only a few minutes before, when Shaw had substituted him for his own good), the referee yellow carded the Retford player.
The visitors deserved at least a point from this game, that they should have already been 5-1 up in before Worksop mounted their great escape. But football fate doesn't f*** about!
Retford doggedly defended a corner inside the final 10 minutes, that they hooked away, but only as far as Steve Wooley, who smashed home the ball to bag a goal that was worthy of winning any game... even one where your visitors have called most of the shots and dictated 70% of play.
It was a cruel blow for Chris Sellars side.
As regards keeping the Tigers hopes afloat in the title race, the significance of Wooley's strike was immense and having almost capitulated several times on the night, Worksop dug deep to preserve their lead now, until the final whistle.
FT: Worksop Town 4 v Retford United 3
While leaving the ground I overheard a Tigers fan saying that they had given Retford too much time and space on the ball tonight. That's bollocks pal!
Sellars side made their own time and space and earned the right to play the way they did, with a pressing and quick passing game, in which they dominated the midfield, from where they attacked at pace for most of the game, until Worksop uncharacteristically 'went long' for the final twenty minutes.
Tonight Retford did everything that they didn't do against Malty Main last week, and in spite of one myopic dissenter's view of the game, it was good to hear the overwhelming majority of the home supporters had nothing but good to say about the Badgers performance. They're a fair crowd at Sandy Lane.
Well played Retford and well done to Worksop for never giving up chasing the game.
All in all, a great advertisement for the quality of the NCEL.
Good luck to both teams as they go on their travels in the NCEL On Saturday.
The pay what you want (minimum of £1) gesture from Worksop Town FC, was so that a bucket collection could be held in support of fundraising for a bereavement room, at Bassetlaw Hospital, for the grieving relatives of stillborn babies. This initiative was arranged by the club with Emma and Keith Hampson in commemoration of their daughter Evelyn Barbara.
It's a very worthy cause and I hope they raised a small fortune from the generous donations received from tonight's crowd of 730.