Central Midlands League North
at Station Road, Collingham
Collingham FC (2) 2
Marlon Grundy 42
Luke Clifford 44
Retford FC (2) 3
Leigh Hutchison 13, 33, 46
Admission £3. Programme £1
It was fast paced, end to end, all action stuff, with the match referee Scott Mason and his assistants, Lewis Morgan and Rob Pealing, allowing the game to flow, whenever possible and contributing to the tempo of the night's entertainment with a common sense "Get on with!" approach.
Mason did however step in authoritatively when he needed to and handled the game very well in my humble and wholly neutral opinion.
To be fair to Collingham; I thought that they were the better side tonight, just as they were on Friday against Newark Town, but they failed to ram home the territorial advantage that they had once again. And Retford had the considerable added advantage of having Leigh Hutchinson operating up front as a part of their attacking arsenal.
The away side were having to absorb a lot of pressure all ready as Paul Hyde side's quick pass and move game was making some serious headway into Retford's last third.
Retford's first venture forward almost gave them the lead against the run of play, but Paul Middleton touched the ball just beyond the back post after Leigh Hutchinson had released Aaron Hutchinson down the right flank and he had delivered a great cross, that had evaded the Collingham keeper Kane Hutchison-Wilkes.
For purposes of clarification, I was reliably informed that there were approximately twelve people in the ground tonight who weren't called Hutchison, one way or another.
Retford had a bit of a let off when Ben Sharp got around the back of their defence, with a strong run, and Jamie Housley did well to save the ensuing close range angled shot.
Costa tried unlocking the visitors defence with an angled through ball for Marlon Grundy to run on to, but Ben Marro was across quickly to make a timely interception and Retford cleared their lines.
In actual fact, they cleared the ball all the way out to the left flank, halfway inside their hosts half, where (L) Hutchinson took over, bringing the ball under control with his first touch, before ghosting past two defensive challenges and fair spanking the ball into the top right corner of the goal from fifteen yards, to give the visitors an unlikely lead in the thirteenth minute.
Collingham had been hogging the ball as if it was their own, for around seventy five percent of the game thus far. But statistics don't win games, goals do... and Retford were in front by virtue of a peach of a strike.
Housley had to run to edge of his area to challenge Luke Clifford and had the ball was 'dinked' over him into the path of Grundy whose first time shot was blocked by Marro's improvised save, as he got down behind the ball to block it without using his hands.
It was neither textbook defending or goalkeeping by any stretch of the imagination and it was worth remembering at the end of the game as Retford won by the odd goal in three, that Marro's unorthodox stop was as vital as any of his sides goals. Just saying ;-)
But having just filled the role of the hero of the piece, Marro allowed Costa to steal the ball from him, before slipping the ball to Clifford, who set up a chance for Grundy that Housley parried but claimed at the second attempt.
Housely was in the thick of it again, when he parried Grundy's close range effort and was glad to see Luke Edwards on hand to hook the ball clear before Clifford could reach it.
Just before the half hour mark, the ball rolled off of the pitch towards us and the Retford FC secretary Kevin Swannack 'inadvertently' sliced his kick as he (pretended to) knock it back to a Collingham player and it spun away towards the houses on Station Road.
"Whoops! That is accidental time wasting Swanny!"
Now as I recall, when I was at infant and junior school with Kev, he was a devotee of Don Revie's Leeds United team of the time. It seems that the ethos of gaining any kind of advantage through the black art of gamesmanship, still lives on in his heart and his outlook on the game as been poisoned by the actions of Paul Reaney, Norman Hunter, Jackie Charlton and Terry Cooper in their heyday.
'Leeds! Leeds! Leeds!' haven't won anything for a very long time, so maybe there is some mileage to be had from indulging in such skulduggery.
You're okay Swanny... I won't tell anyone what you did pal!
Jason Swannack, pushing forward from his left back berth, as he is wont to do, floated a long dipping pass from out on the wing towards (L) Hutchinson, who was 'goal hanging' around the penalty spot and made it look easy as he diverted the ball past Hutchinson-Wilkes to double his side's lead.
How on earth Collingham didn't win this game, or the one on Friday, will probably be declared as the 'Eighth Wonder of the World' any time soon, but neither Retford or Newark Town, two deft exponents of the 'smash n' grab' discipline, will be unduly concerned about that.
(L) Hutchinson threaded a pass out wide to (A) Hutchinson, who got past Jayden Driver and smashed a low and hard cross. across the face of the home side's goal, but nobody could provide the slightest of touches, which was all that the ball needed.
Swannack found himself in space some thirty yards from goal and decided that it worth going it alone as he unleashed a thumping shot... and if that had been thirty feet lower as it vanished into the back gardens of the pensioners bungalows, it would have been quite spectacular.
Maybe Jason meant to do that and was merely looking to run the clock down like his dad had done earlier in the first half, it's in his genes innit?
Driver took the resulting free kick but Housley dealt with it.
And Housley was in demand again soon afterwards, saving from Grundy after Clifford had created yet another chance for him.
The Grundy v Housley duel had been a compelling contest, but sadly the Retford keeper had to go off at half time with a suspected broken finger after one of his own teammates had stood on his hand.
You don't need enemies with mates like that!
(A) Hutchinson cut in from the right flank and with the defence backing off in anticipation of a cross, drilled a low shot past the wrong side of the left hand post.
Collingham's keeper launched a long clearance down the field and as the Retford defence had stepped up to play Grundy offside, Marro who was struggling with his pace due to a severe shortage of recent match minutes, didn't move out quickly enough, but the home side's number nine cracked off another shot wide of the target. Any other time with the same kind of service, he could easily have netted five times by half time, but the fates were against him tonight.
Collingham weren't looking forward to their imminent half time bollocking and they upped in ante in the closing minutes of the first half,
In the forty second minute, just after Retford had nearly gone three-nil up, when (A) Hutchinson's close range header from Luke Edwards pinpoint cross, had been plucked from under the bar by Hutchinson-Wilkes, the home side countered... and though Housley got his outstretched fingers to Clifford's twelve yard half volley, as the loose ball spun towards the goal, Grundy got a touch to nudge it over the line as he wrestled with Marro who was a whisker away from making a last ditch clearance.
Now that Collingham had finally found the goal that their unstinting efforts had deserved, it set things up nicely for the second half, but they weren't done yet.
In the very last minute of the half, Grundy returned the favour for his striking partner when he sent a right wing cross over to Clifford who equalised from close range.
Hmm... that really made things interesting after the break now.
The two goal fightback was probably warranted given how much time Collingham had spent onthe ball and how many clear cut chances they had created. But what a sickener for Retford. two-nil up with three minutes to go and now going in for the interval on level terms.
HT: Collingham 2 v Retford 2
Luckily for Chris Woodhead's side, they had another keeper on the bench and Ryan Elkington took his place between the sticks for the second half, while 'Big Will', AKA Will Tomlinson came on in place of Marro, who isn't quite back to full fitness yet, but who'd played his part with a couple of decent blocks and last ditch clearances during the opening forty five minutes.
If conceding just before the break is supposed to be psychologically bad for the defending team, Retford certainly hadn't come out for the second half looking down... and having forced a corner less than a minute after the restart, (L) Hutchinson completed his hat trick when he netted from inside the home side's six yard box from Edwards right wing flag kick.
But the referee had spotted that the ball had actually looped over Hutchinson-Wilkes, quite accidentally off of Tomlinson's elbow and that his hand had cuffed the home side's goalie on top of his head, as the graceful Retford front man returned to earth from his salmon like leap.
Accidents happen, eh!?
But that young Mr Mason doesn't miss a trick.
The home side were still battering away at the visitors defence, who were putting in a real backs to the wall shift. Jonny Drabble drilled a low corner kick across the six yard box, but with a scrum of Collingham players on hand, waiting to add the finishing touch, Elkington dropped down to his knees and managed to push the ball out of harms way.
Gilmore pushed forward and released Tomlinson, who kept his shot low and hard, but Hutchinson-Wilkes managed to make a block.
You couldn't take your eyes off of this one for a moment... and though the managers and coaches might have been heard to use the word 'scrappy'; as a spectacle it was an end to end, action packed treat, with every man out on the pitch giving it all he had.
Clifford sprinted down the left flank, catching Edwards out for pace and put in the kind of cross that forwards dream of towards Grundy, but Swannack swept things up for Retford and calmed the situation down with an assured clearance.
The visitors then enjoyed a spell of pressure, with Johnson and Gilmore playing quality balls into the Collingham area, from which (A) Hutchinson steered the ball past the post, while Tomlinson's delicate and precise chip, caressed the crossbar and went for a goal kick.
Within a minute, 'Big Will' showed good feet and rolled the ball towards (A) Hutchinson's feet, but Hutchinson-Wilkes pounced and smothered the ball.
Paul Middleton had been operating box to box for Retford tonight, when he wasn't standing on his goalkeeper's hands, in a position that could best be described as 'getting stuck in all over the park and working his spherical bits off'... and he was on hand to dispatch a long pass towards Clifford back the way it had come as the hosts number ten looked odds on to snatch an equaliser.
With Collingham having to commit men forward as they chased the game, Swannack was enjoying having a free run down the left wing, he picked out Tomlinson with a decent cross but as the big boned striker bought the ball down, that ever vigilant referee ruled that it had been 'chested' down with a shoulder.
Tomlinson had scored the only goal of the game the last time these two sides met, in a Floodlit Cup tie back in October 2015, so the hosts were well aware of the threat he posed. A retro report from the game appeared in tonight's programme, which can also be viewed HERE
Johnson and Gilmore linked up and got the ball through to Tomlinson who deftly flicked it up in the air to set upa shot for (L) Hutchison, whose first time rasping shot was well saved by Hutchinson-Wilkes, who had more than proved his worth to his team tonight.
Paul Hyde sent on Jack Wilkinson and if the battling and lively red head's mandate had been to 'freshen things up, up front', then he certainly followed that instruction to the nth degree and the home side suddenly had another attacking option in their midst.
The game continued to ebb and flow, then turned the other way again with Retford bearing down on Hutchinson-Wilkes goal, as Tomlinson held up the ball and fed Middleton on the overlap, who took a defender with him before squaring a pass to (L) Hutchinson who was unlucky to see his shot take a deflection.
Wilkinson danced through a crowded penalty area and went to ground and it appeared that he had been helped on his way by Lee Smith's outstretched leg, but the referee had a good view and said 'nothing doing', much to the consternation of the Collingham bench and the relief of the Retfordian contingent.
Drabble's corner was headed wide by Clifford, as the home side continued to strive for the elusive third goal.
Wilkinson chased down a long ball, just outside the Retford area but Elkington charged forward to reach it first and another opening went begging for the home side.
Matt Ward, the Collingham skipper, crossed towards Drabble, but Johnson took the ball down on his chest and cleared it away, as the hosts management optimistically called out for a 'handball!'
Grundy picked up a through ball just in front of Elkington, took it round the Retford keeper and side footed the ball from six yards out, that Swannack managed to clear away off the line.
Both keepers were still seeing plenty of the ball as the clock ticked down and the Retford defence were being stretched to breaking point, but were somehow keeping Paul Hyde's team at bay, with a rugged display that was redefining the word stubbornness.
In the final minute of added time (L) Hutchison played the ball across the edge of Collingham's area to (A) Hutchinson, whose shot came back off the post and into the arms of the home sides keeper.
The full time whistle sounded and Retford, who hadn't exactly been shy about piling on the pressure themselves, had withstood a great effort from the Collingham side, who couldn't have done any more to make good of all the graft and application they had put in, in and around the visitors area.
All three points went to the home side who climbed up to fifth in the table as a consequence, but their hosts will have been gutted not to get anything out of a second home game in a row, after having played such a big part in both games.
FT: Collingham 2 v Retford 3
Retford face an away trip to Phoenix FC (of Brinsworth) on Saturday, in a game that kicks off at 2pm. And Collingham don't have another game scheduled until January 7th when they visit Dinnington Town.
The next CMFL game at Station Road, id the next chapter in the #FloodyFriday saga, when Bilsthorpe visit Newark Town on Friday January 6th.
The next CMFL game at Station Road, id the next chapter in the #FloodyFriday saga, when Bilsthorpe visit Newark Town on Friday January 6th.