Wednesday 26th September 2016
Worksop Van Hire North Midland U19 League
at the Jones & Co. Stadium, Cannon Park
Retford United U19 (0) 0
Swallownest U19 (1) 4
Dale Featherstone 22, 74
Jamie Knox 61
Junior Gama 71
Admission £2. Programme 20p. Attendance 35
Last week I was speaking to one of last season's catchment of Under 19 players at Swallownest, Steve Nettleship, while we were both watching Maltby Main in action. And I just happened to mention that I hadn't watched them play this season yet, or seen their manager Mark Edwards around in ages.
I was stunned to hear that Mark had been seriously ill and was currently recovering from a stroke.
It was very saddening to hear that such a nice guy was having a bad time of things, so I contacted him ASAP and was mightily relieved to hear that he was over the worst of it and on the mend.
Mark is one of those easy to get along with people that I immediately clicked with on my travels, because there is a special kind of bond and affinity between like minded souls, who inhabit the off radar grass roots territories of planet football on cold and damp midweek nights, while the rest of the country are all tucked up in their nice warm homes, watching overpaid professionals going through the motions on satellite TV... or Hollyoaks!
As soon as 'Ted' is well enough, we've offered to take him out and about to a few development league games... as long as he doesn't embarrass us by wearing his Rotherham United colours.
In the mean time, you get yourself well pal and don't worry about the 'Swall' lads, on tonight's evidence they are carrying on and moving forward with the good habits they picked up last season.
|"Look Mr Geppetto, I'm a real boy now!"|
Tonight we knew the staff, committee people and managements teams from both sides, a good number of the players and their parents, Retford's number 8, Liam Bennett, a future England international lives next door to me... and we are on first name terms with the match officials, who kept the game flowing well tonight with a minimum of fuss.
And,of course, it is always a pleasure to see Pam and Barry Crownshaw from the league committee doing the rounds.
So obviously I was going to have no problems being objective, supportive and impartial as regards my overview of the and generous (but genuine) appraisal of the way the game was officiated and the merits of the Worksop Van Hire North Midland U19 Development League itself.
Prior to kick off I discussed the priorities for the recently re-formed Retford United Under 19 team, for this season and beyond, with one of their management duo, Lee Hurst, and he sees the development of his side as a long term project, where he can bring the 16 year old lads in the side through, over the course of several seasons, in a team that is under pinned by a good selection of slightly older players from the area.
The results aren't majorly important... not yet anyway! Because the main aim for Lee and his assistant Phil Hall, is nurturing young players and moulding them into first team material.
But already the signs were there that the Badgers youngsters have already improved since their first game of the season against a strong Sheffield United side... and an enforced break due to a couple of postponements, was probably a blessing in disguise for the United management, as it gave them an extended opportunity to bolster their squad, reassess their game plan and tactics and instill a bit more focus and motivation after the 0-12 reversal against the Blades. Off the pitch, United obviously have the right sort of people making sure that the whole matchday experience runs like clockwork, though perhaps a notice on the main entrance letting people know that they should gain admission to the ground via a side entrance for U19 teams wouldn't have gone amiss. Just saying ;-)
Initially Retford started brightly tonight, with Henry Pickering looking dangerous down the right flank, but Aaron Boardman was tracking his every move and just about keeping him in check.
The first real opportunity fell to the visitors, when Lewis Ballard worked himself a yard of space outside the Badgers area, but shot wide of the upright.
Ben Davies was marshaling his defence well, as Dale Featherstone slotted comfortably into the role of presenting an omnipresent danger to the home side.
The two Liam's, Bennett and White combined well to make strides into the 'Swall' half and the game looked to be fairly evenly balanced, until the twenty second minute when Featherstone laid a pass into the path of Ballard on the left hand side of the Badgers area and ran on to pick up the return ball and opened the scoring with a shot across Adam Hicks.
White showed some good touches on the edge of the visitors box but Boardman took the ball away and cleared. However, White had an opportunity to level things up shortly afterwards, but his audacious free kick from all of thirty yards went wide.
Hicks was called into action but made a great stop from Freddie Russell's angled shot.
Alex Kirkman picked up the ball just outside the 'Swall' area and slipped it through the visitors defence with his first touch, but Jack Hood advanced quickly from his line and thwarted Kris Scott.
Right on the stroke of half time, Jamie Knox, up in support of his attack had the opportunity to double the South Yorkshire sides lead, but Davies put in a timely blocking tackle.
HT: Badgers 0 v Swall 1
The visitors introduced Jack Jeffery and Junior Gama at half time... and their pace and extra impetus, proved to be Retford's undoing as Swallownest cranked up the tempo a couple of notches.
And although the first goal scoring opportunity of the second half saw Pickering's shot bobble wide of Hood's left hand upright.
Nathan Blagg did well in the air to stop Ballard from getting a header on target, but Swallownest doubled their lead from the next attack when Hicks got a hand to Jeffery's right wing cross but could only turn the ball into the path of Jamie Knox near the back stick and he made no mistake from five yards out.
Their are few finer sights in this division than a focused and determined Junior Gama, advancing on the opposition area with the ball under close control, his run and cross on the right flank opened the Badgers defence up for Ballard, but fell on to his right foot as opposed to his favoured left and Hicks saved comfortably.
|Cannon Square, Retford.|
The inspiration for the RUFC badge.
Random space filling picture moment.
Hicks punched Featherstone's left wing corner away from under his bar and Davies blocked Gama's shot as the lively play maker popped up on the left hand side of Retford's area this time.
But Gama wasn't to be denied in the seventy first minute, when Ballard headed the ball down into his path and he drilled the ball past Hicks.
Moments later Danny Cook crashed a header against the Retford crossbar as 'Swall' finished the game strongly, but three minutes after Gama's strike, Featherstone saw off a challenge and helped himself to another goal from the edge of the area.
Ballard almost presented Featherstone with his hat trick with a measured pass across the Badgers defence, but he shot straight at Hicks. And in the closing moments of the game, Ballard left Gama's sideways pass (or missed it) and Liam Smart hooked a shot wide of United's goal.