Arnold Town vs Radford FC 08/12/18 – East Midlands Counties League
By Michael Callander
A Ryan Smith brace and Simon Hore and Abou Sylla goals completed a comprehensive comeback for Glenn Russell’s men, having trailed to an Arnold Town side propping up the East Midlands Counties League table.
The game was largely played in torrential rain and there were fears that it might be called off, as the ball stopped dead in the centre circle several times.
The visitors might’ve taken the lead early on but no Radford players were able to get a toe on Ryan Smith’s low cross from the right.
Smith was involved again soon afterwards as a misplaced headed pass put him clean through, but the striker was hacked down on the edge of the area. Connor Hardy curled the free-kick over the bar.
Radford had a string of corners which Arnold were unable to clear properly; the ball fell to Will Daley on the edge of the area but the full-back fired just wide of the left post.
The visitors’ profligacy came back to haunt them minutes later as Bryce Botsoi made a nuisance of himself down the Arnold right and crossed low for WILL BOUWEN to slide the ball into the net unmarked. 1 – 0 Arnold.
Arnold’s assist provider Botsoi was forced off through injury in the 28th minute, replaced by Ousman Kolley.
Radford equalised on 31 minutes, as RYAN SMITH turned on a dime and fired into the middle of the goal after Eugene Francis’ left-side cross. 1 – 1.
Jack Smith’s curling 25-yard effort forced a highlight-reel save from Michael Ball in the Arnold goal as Radford looked to turn the game around in the blink of an eye. Strong hands were also needed to stop a Connor Hardy snapshot along the soaking turf finding the net from the edge of the area.
Hardy made a tricky run into the centre but was flattened by Mitch Locker on the edge of the area. His low free-kick deflected off the Arnold wall to captain Matt Hopewell who fired over.
Eugene Francis finished excellently into the right side netting from the left to send Radford in ahead at the end of an even first half, but his goal was chalked off for offside.
HT ARNOLD TOWN 1 – 1 RADFORD FC
The visitors returned refreshed after having half-time to dry off, and SIMON HORE headed in after the ball was put back in the box following a corner. 2 – 1 Radford.
Connor Hardy put himself about well for the first 55 minutes but seemed a controversial refereeing decision away from a booking for dissent. He was substituted for recent signing Abou Sylla ten minutes into the second period.
Sylla and Francis immediately pressed the Arnold back line, leading to a number of panicked clearances which Radford might have profited from.
The Pheasants almost had a third as Sylla ran down the right on the hour mark and crossed but Ryan Smith couldn’t get enough contact on the ball and it rolled agonisingly wide.
Smith was let off the hook a minute later as an inswinging SYLLA corner went directly in at the near post. 3 – 1 Radford.
Arnold almost pulled one back on 63 minutes through the influential Curtis Millward but he pulled his snapshot wide of the right post.
Eugene Francis was replaced by Conor Moore on 64 minutes and Paul Durham came on for Tom Black five minutes later as Radford searched for yet another goal to complete the rout on the road.
Gafaar Karim was booked 73 minutes in for shoving Matt Hopewell to the floor out of frustration while chasing the ball.
As the game entered its closing stages, Sylla’s tricky run was halted on the edge of the area. The following free-kick was shanked high and wide by Conor Moore.
Ryan Smith nearly had a second on 80 minutes as a shot deflected wide of the opposite post to the one he was aiming for, leaving Ball flat-footed in the Arnold goal.
He bagged the brace his overall performance warranted just two minutes later as Jack Smith saw a header saved from a free-kick, but the forward was able to pick up the pieces. 4 – 1 Radford.
FT ARNOLD TOWN 1 – 4 RADFORD FC
(BOUWEN 22’; SMITH 31’, 82’, HORE 47’, SYLLA 62’)
Updated 12:24 - 9 Dec 2018 by Radford FC