Saturday, 12 November 2016

Retford United 3 v Maltby Main 2 - NCEL Prem

Displaying _20161112_200230.JPG
Saturday 12th November 2016
Toolstation NCEL Premier Division
at the Jones & Co. Stadium, Cannon Park
Retford United (1) 3
Keith Melvin 23, Daniel Murray 69, Josh Raby 90+
Maltby Main (1) 2
Nicky Darker 1, Shawn Mitchell 90+
Admission £5. Attendance 127
Post match handshakes would be a more interesting option in my opinion
The Cannon Park pitch passed a 10.45am inspection this morning, meaning that this game between two sides whose grounds stand roughly twenty five minutes drive away from each could go ahead.
When I arrived, there was obviously still some standing water, particularly on the strips where the referee's assistants would ply their trade and the pitch could be classified as 'soft going' at best, as the game commenced and it cut up badly, making things increasingly difficult underfoot for both sides.
The teams and everybody present, joined in a time of quiet reflection for the fallen of the first and second world wars and more recent conflicts the world over... including the unjust and illegal ones, that certain world leaders have escaped punishment for manufacturing. Hi! Tony Blair!
It was a cold and grey afternoon, but my big fat head was as warm as toast, because that nice Mr Mills (John, the Maltby club secretary) had bought me one his club's dead fashionable woolly hats to wear, as a gift for stepping into his shoes for a couple of games recently.
Those shoes were quite a comfortable fit actually and if Millsy ever wants to skive off again (on a temporary basis) at some point in the future, I'd be more than happy to help out again, as long as the timing was right, as regards my duties with them there Stags.
Though I would happily give Ash Davis a job reference to take on such tasks any day of the week and he's loyal, keen and already in situ at Muglet Lane. Just saying ;-)
The game was literally only a few seconds old when, ever so slightly against the run of play, Nicky Darker latched onto Steve Hopewell's knock down into his path and buried the ball past Sam Jepson, before a Retford player had even touched the ball.
Apparently the official time was given as fourteen seconds, but it may well have been even quicker.
If I had have known that the Miners captain was attempting to create a new world record I would've picked my stopwatch up before I left my house, which you can just about see in the pre-match handshake photo (above).
Shortly after Main's opening goal, two of the visitors committee men Martin Hawley and Danny Griffiths came across to join us in the seats, the ball went out of play and while Martin attempted to kick it back onto the pitch, he actually scuffed it away over the roof of the stand. Well, that's one way to run the clock down and use up the next eighty nine minutes pal! "Accidental!" you say, hmm, the jury is still out on that one.
Amidst a background of  'oohing and ahhing' noises, Maltby cleared the ball off their line three times, but as Keith Melvin's shot was hooked away the referee's assistant on the clubhouse side of the ground, Stuart Richardson signaled that the ball had crossed the line and the Badgers were level. Mr Richardson, resplendent with a poppy adorning his shirt, was in line with play and I wasn't so I couldn't possibly comment further on that one.
Twenty three minutes, one apiece and both captain's had scored.
What could possibly go wrong?
A bit of pushing and shoving and gesturing between players from both sides soon escalated into a fully blown scrap, the Retford contingent claimed Maltby's goalkeeper had started it, while other's said that United's Liam Wood and Niall Sultan had struck the first blows (not me I hasten to add).
But, in a nutshell it doesn't really matter who started it, because once players from both sides went piling in, it meant that all three teams had lost control, that's Retford, Maltby and the officials.
In the middle of the melee Ollie Lawrence, the visitors number 3, was poleaxed by a double punch combination and was caught by a boot in the back of his head, while he was on the ground (I hope and pray that was accidental), and was unable to continue as a consequence, once an uneasy peace, of sorts, had been restored.
A picture appeared on social media, showing Darker pulling at a Retford player with his hands clamped around his opponent's face... and as a stand alone photograph, that looked pretty bad for the Maltby skipper. But the fact of the matter is: he was pulling his 'victim' away from Lawrence on the floor, because he had his hands around the already injured players throat.
Other quite blatant shoves and 'hands up' offences were spotted and by now neither side were innocent as both management teams ran on to try and pull some of their more fiery antagonists away from the melee.
One ex-Maltby player in particular really needed restraining too... and was very lucky to get away with what he had done.
Image result for cannon park retford
Sadly the unrest spread into the stand; it only got as far as threats being issued, but the knee jerk over-reaction to what was going on out on the pitch, meant that my pals from both clubs wouldn't be watching the game side by side anymore this afternoon, as the Maltby lads moved away to avoid any further potential confrontation.
We're all much too old and wise for any of that crap.
Just shake hands and get on with watching the game, instead of blowing things out of all proportion and making and taking everything so personal.
You were all there for the same reason, your love of the game and your team.
Passion gets the better of us all at times when we care too much... but enough is enough, behave yourselves now you lovable rogues xxx
The match referee, David Hunt, dismissed one player from each side in response to the kerfuffle, Maltby's keeper Danny Rusling and United's captain Keith Melvin.
I was expecting the red card to be brandished to at least two more players.
But what do I know, eh!?
Note, I have deliberately omitted mentioning several names of players who were guilty of offences that went unpunished and have no intention of posting any further photographs online... none of that would serve any purpose and I would only be stirring up a shit storm for when the two sides next meet, or the league respond to the referee's report.
Draw a big black line under it and move on folks.
I really wish that there had been more overnight rain and that this game hadn't gone ahead now.
And I'm glad that the referee had two decent assistants working alongside him in his hour of need... Lord knows he needed them.
With Lawrence unable to continue, Stancliffe came on as a substitute to cover the goalkeeping role and though he could possibly have done with a slightly more flattering sized shirt, he did well between the sticks.
In fact right on the stroke of half time, 'Stan' pulled off a great stop to thwart Liam Wood as he was put through on goal by Danny Murray's  measured pass.
HT: Retford United 1 v Maltby Main 1
After the interval, much to most people's surprise, an actual game of football broke out.
The underfoot conditions were dictating the overall style of play, but the cheery demeanour returned to the faces of the spectators as both teams ran (and slid) about at breakneck speed showing a 100% commitment to their respective causes.
During the opening fifteen minutes of the second half, Maltby created the bulk of chances, with Shawn Mitchell going close twice and Jordan Snodin was denied from ten yards out, when Ben Wyld took the ball off of his toe as he was about to shoot from Ryan Carroll's sideways knock.
Jepson saved from Josh Schofield and who then combined with Carroll to play Darker in on goal, but he scuffed his shot as the ball got bogged down.
Retford were utilising Niall Sultan's pace and close control, both down the right flank and in the middle. Danny Reilly stopped him in his tracks with a firm tackle that Mr Hunt decided was a foul and showed the Maltby defender a yellow card, which was a bit ironic given some of the shenanigans he had let go during 'play time', halfway through the opening forty five minutes.
Hopewell and Carroll combined to pass their way through the middle of the Badgers defence, but Wyld was scrapping for every ball and got a foot in at the expense of a corner.
Jack Greeves dropped his flag kick right onto the head of Reilly, who powered the ball down towards the bottom right hand corner of the Retford goal, but it was cleared as several Maltby players appealed that it had crossed the line.
Wyld cleared behind again as Schofield advanced towards the Badgers goal. Greeves put another good ball across the face of United's goal that bounced up in front of Darker, who whacked the ball towards the grey sky instead of Jepson's goal.
The lively Sultan ran at the Maltby defence again and forced a save out of Stancliffe. But moments later Sultan returned again, forging a path down the right flank before crossing to Murray who netted from close range.
Maltby had been the more creative side since the break, but goals win games, not statistics.
To that end, Hopewell looked odds on to score within a minute of Retford taking the lead, but Jepson dropped to his left and smothered the ball on the line.
Jack Binney entered the fray from the subs bench for Maltby and was getting in amongst the Retford defence through the left channel. Wyld caught him with a late challenge, that was more clumsy than malicious on the rain sodden pitch. The referee spoke to Wyld who had already booked (most people in the ground had been by now) and told him: "One more and you're off!", which seemed ominous because the Retford number 2 doesn't do things by halves. 
Sure enough, he was straight back in the thick of things within seconds, preventing Binney from getting his shot away after he'd run fifty yards to make the opening for himself.
Craig Mitchell came on for the Miners and joined his brother in  the middle of the park. 
Lord help anyone who felt like starting a scrap now!
Image result for mitchell brothers
Schofield launched a thirty five yard free kick into United's area, but the home side cleared their lines and scrambled the ball away for another corner as the game passed the ninety minute mark.
Greeves drilled the ball into the Retford six yard box and among a scrum of players (S) Mitchell forced the ball over the line from just a couple of feet out, in the fifth minute of added time..
Retford had absorbed a lot of pressure and had defended and countered well, but Maltby deserved something out of this game and it looked as though they would be taking a point for their efforts now.
But in the ninety eighth minute, Josh Raby crashed a long range free kick into the corner of the net, that Stancliffe had no chance of doing anything about.
With the referee looking like he was intent on taking the game past the one hundredth minute, the game almost had a sting in it's tail, when Maltby were awarded a free kick twenty five yards from goal. 
Greeves unleashed a blistering shot that swerved round the Retford wall and was moving about all over, just a couple of feet above the ground, it was textbook stuff and had 'goal' written all over it. But Jepson, who must only have caught sight of the ball at the last moment, pulled off an absolutely blinding save across to his left.
And that was that, effectively, Jepson had held onto the three points for the Badgers, as well as the ball.
Maltby had made more chances than their hosts, but didn't convert as many... and therein lays the difference.
FT: Retford United 3 v Maltby Main 2
Now kiss and make up, the bloody lot of you!