Radford vs Ashby Ivanhoe 01/12/18 – East Midlands Counties League
By Michael Callander
Radford triumphed over visitors Ashby Ivanhoe for the second time in as many weeks to get their promotion hopes back on track, courtesy of goals from Tom Black and Simon Hore.
3rd-placed Sherwood Colliery have a game in hand against Heanor Town. A favourable result would see them remain within touching distance of Radford, but the gap would extend to six points if Sherwood can get the win over Heanor, who currently occupy 8th place.
Radford welcomed two new additions ahead of kick-off; right-back Will Daley arrived from West Bridgford, while Abou Sylla joined from Gedling Miners Welfare. Both went straight onto the bench.
Ashby Ivanhoe might have created something very early on but despite good passing play on the edge of Hadlee Dunn’s box, they were unable to get a clear shot away. Ryan Smith got on the end of a clinical counter-attack but his shot was the first of many blocked behind for a corner in the match.
Chris Sykes created a good chance in the 6th minute but his cross from the right was glanced wide by Horn in the middle.
TOM BLACK broke the deadlock by firing in off the left post from a ball into the box from the right. 1-0 Radford.
The home side looked to force the issue straight from kick-off and look for a second; Connor Hardy pressed well to win the ball but his cross from the left was blocked.
There was a break in play shortly afterwards as Trafford Pickering went down with a knock, leaving Ashby temporarily down to ten men.
A Rav Jackson run was blocked for a corner, which Ryan Smith headed straight at Liam Richards.
An Ashby free kick was initially headed away but there were no Radford players underneath it so the visitors got a second ball into the box. The second attempt was headed straight at Dunn who collected it at the second attempt.
Connor Hardy might be considered lucky to have got away without a booking after a lengthy heated discussion with the referee after reacting badly to an Ashby tackle on him.
Radford almost had a second minutes later, as Jake Morris overlapped and put an inviting cross into the box, but Ryan Smith slipped and his shot went wide. Hardy missed in the 33rd minute as he spun onto a ball into the middle.
Ashby’s Jake Conkay was warned for bringing goalscorer Tom Black down on the halfway line on 34 minutes, but avoided a booking to the ire of the Radford players, who felt it was a dangerous and unnecessary challenge.
A few minutes from the end of the first half, Matt Hopewell clattered into an Ashby player down the right in a scary 50/50 which worryingly left the Radford right-back down in clear discomfort for several minutes.
Simon Hore hit the post from a low Connor Hardy free kick from point-blank range, a miss that was almost costly as an Ashby shot was blocked for a corner in injury time, but it was booted clear by Spriggs.
HT RADFORD 1 – 0 ASHBY IVANHOE
Radford came out rejuvenated in the second half and looked to control proceedings early after the break.
Rav Jackson pressed Liam Richards in the 52nd minute and his rushed clearance led to a chance for Connor Hardy, which he blazed over the bar by some distance. He then slid a shot wide of the right post after the ball was put into the box from the left.
Hardy was constantly involved in the game and looked especially dangerous when Pickering gave away a free kick on the edge of the Ashby area. The Radford winger hit the base of the left post after fooling the keeper and curling his shot around the wall. He was substituted off shortly later to be replaced by Eugene Francis.
Radford had about five successive corners just after the hour mark but the ball just wouldn’t fall right for them. There was a clear sense though that Ashby were on the ropes and the home side just needed to put a scrappy chance away to see the game out.
Angus Blair-Park was replaced by Josh Lawrence up front on 68 minutes for Ashby as they tried to claw themselves back in the game. Radford responded by giving young full-back Will Daley his debut off the bench in place of Jake Morris.
Ryan Smith covered every blade of grass but was brought off for Ben Clark in the 77th minute as the game went through a spell with little technical quality as neither side could get a foot on the ball for a while.
Radford finally got a second on 80 minutes and the constant pressure paid off as SIMON HORE tapped in unmarked at the back post from a corner. 2-0 Radford.
Daley put in an impressive performance at right-back in his 20-minute cameo, overlapping often and being ambitious with his passes when the situation suited but knowing when to slow things down and choose the safer option.
A tame Ashby shot was claimed by Hadlee Dunn in the 89th minute and he held onto it for as long as the referee would allow as Radford looked to see out a professional performance at the back.
The Pheasants’ search for a clean sheet continues however as injury-time pinball in the penalty area led to an unfortunate own-goal as Spriggs tried to clear the ball away. 2 – 1 Radford.
The home side have conceded at least once in every game since their 4-0 dismantling of Arnold Town in October, their next opponents in the East Midlands Counties League.
FT RADFORD 2 -1 ASHBY IVANHOE
(BLACK 8’, HORE 80’; SPRIGGS (og) 90+1
Updated 23:03 - 2 Dec 2018 by Radford FC