Toolstation NCEL League Cup 3rd Round
at the Jones & Co. Stadium, Cannon Park
Retford United (0) 1
Danny Murray 89
Penistone Church (2) 2
Andrew Ring 2, 16
Penistone Church have a braek from league action on Saturday, when they welcome Mansfield Woodhouse's finest: Sherwood Colliery, in the FA Vase First Round.
Tonight's game, having originally been rescheduled to 8PM, finally got underway at 8.12PM, due to a number of the home players getting held up in traffic en route to Cannon Park.
The even later arrivals had to go onto the subs bench, and while several of the Badgers team were forced to play out position, two players who probably shouldn't even have started tonight, because they are still recovering from injury and aren't actually ready for 90 minutes of NCEL football yet; took to the field at the start of the game as well... and in both cases had to leave the pitch during the game, having aggravated the knocks that they are carrying and supposed to be returning to action from in two or three weeks time.
Enforced changes and injuries could be pointed to as contributing factors to Retford's downfall, if the Church hadn't also got a couple of first choice picks unavailable too. In fact, the visitors had to play striker Lewis Dickinson in goal for the entire second half after Adam Rhodes had to e withdrawn because of an injured shoulder.
United were almost immediately on level terms when Danny Murray's long range shot was parried by Jepson and as he clawed at the ball to retrieve it Niall Sultan intercepted, went round the keeper and rolled a close range effort over the line... but the 'goal' was disallowed after it was decided, correctly or otherwise, that the ball had originally been kicked by Sultan, while Jepson had it under control with his hands.
Luke Walker, one of the Badgers walking wounded, playing out of position at left back, had already made two interceptions in spite of the fact he was obviously struggling; but after 16 minutes, he couldn't quite complete a headed clearance and Jack Moore got to the loose ball took it forward a few yards and delivered a perfect cross to double Penistone's lead.
Jack Walters and Ash Shannon were both battling to make in roads towards the visitors go, but the heavy pitch wasn't suiting either their pace nor close control.
You've just got to hope that the unexpected start hasn't put his recovery back.
One of the linesmen also went down injured just before the break, after going over heavily on his ankle. But he reappeared after the break, probably after taking into consideration that the game had slowed down to a snails pace and he'd be able to keep up.
I attempted to update the score on Twitter, but discovered, quite back accident that if you type in Penistone Church too slowly you get taken to a feed called 'Celebrity Penis'. Surely to God the Peter Andre on has been photo-shopped on!? Err... moving swiftly on.
Three minutes into the second half, with Retford already having made all of their substitutions, Sultan stretched for the ball and aggravated his hamstring injury. His departure to the dressing room saw the home side reduced to ten men.
Walters shot across the face of the visitors goal, but the ball went wide of the left hand post.
Sam Jepson, who I was semi-reliably informed had travelled all the way from Catterick to play in goal for United, held on well to James Young's cross, after Luke Johnson and half time substitute Danny Joynes had set an attacking move in progress.
Johnson was actually doing very well in the middle of the Church midfield and coping admirably with the tacky pitch, while Cameron Dear, playing in an unfamiliar role put in a creditable performance for the Badgers across the middle of the park.
It was Dear who sent Walters clear through the left channel, but his shot was well saved by the deputising keeper Wilkinson.
In the main, the game was being played out around the centre circle, the pitch was cutting up like buggery and the saving grace of the night was that due to Penistone's two goal cushion, it was highly unlikely that we'd need to sit through an extra thirty minutes of extra time.
But the home side nearly forced the issue, when Wilkinson air kicked at Dillan O'Connor's long ball towards his goal, which allowed Danny Murray to chase the ball and roll it into an empty and unguarded net.
In stoppage time O'Conner created another chance from a deep free kick, but Keith Melvin diverted the ball just wide of the post. Phew!
FT: Retford United 1 v Penistone Church 2
I usually enjoy watching Penistone in action, because they play some aesthetically lovely football at times, but tonight, they did what they had to on a glue pot pitch that looked like it had just staged the horse of the year show... so it was really a genuine case of horses for courses n' all that!
I guess Retford United can count their blessings that Cleethorpes Town won't be able to pass the ball around as much as they would like too this coming Saturday on the rutted and bobbly surface at Cannon Park.
It's going to be a long old season for the Badgers faithful.