Thackley's final league match of the campaign was probably one of the most important of the season, for the League Title rested on the result. Anything but victory for Retford United would hand the title to Bridlington Town. Thackley had already defeated the home club twice this season at Dennyfield, in the League and in the League Cup. The Dennyboys were forced into making a number of changes from the side that beat Parkgate on Saturday due to injury and unavailability. The Cannon Park pitch had survived an afternoon inspection, it looked in very good condition considering the amount of rain that had fallen over the past few days.
Jason Fisher, in the home goal, was the first keeper to be tested, Darrell Kendall firing in a low drive in the second minute. Retford showed they were up for the game and twice had shots which were wide of the mark. Ten minutes in and they could have taken the lead but Mark Bower, in the away goal, came out to save from Carl Snowden. A minute later, a defensive slip let in Karl Slack but he lifted the ball over Bower and onto the post. Thackley were seeing plenty of the ball but were unable to penetrate the home defence, whilst Retford looked the more dangerous when they pushed forward. Jamil Joseph had a long range effort easily saved by Fisher before the Thackley goal survived another scare. Bower went down to cut out a cross from the right, Snowden put his foot in and the ball hit the bar before going over, the away keeper took some time to recover from a head injury. Thackley's rather slow build up restricted them to long range efforts, whilst Retford were using the long ball to create their chances. With ten minutes to go to the break, Snowden was put clear on the right, John Mallinson managed to lift the ball over the bar from his cross to relieve the danger. From the resultant corner the ball was cleared off the line by skipper, Matt Morgan. Just before the interval Thackley created their best chance of the half, Callum White's cross found his namesake Deroy at the far post, his header, from a couple of yards out, was just wide of the post. Snowden had the opportunity to give the Badgers the lead in the dying minutes of the half but he fired well wide with just Bower to beat. Retford had created the better scoring chances in the first forty five minutes but Thackley had kept their goal intact.
Within a minute of the SECOND HALF starting, Retford had broken the deadlock. A long ball was not cleared out of defence and was knocked out right, it was crossed back into the box, Warren Hatfield hammered it past Bower. It was a setback for Thackley and gave the home side extra momentum. Bower did well to pinch the ball from Slack's boot after a long hoist forward from defence, then got down to save well from Adam Scott. It was Bower again who came to Thackley's rescue just before the hour, getting down to push a Slack shot round the post. Both sides made substitutions, Luke Rhodes
and Mark Bett replacing Callum White and Jamil Joseph for Thackley, Carl Haslam and Jamie Brown coming on for Snowden and Scott for Retford. Fisher did well coming out to block Kendall's effort after he was put through by Keenan Ratcliffe, the Thackley fullback was giving his Retford counterpart the run-around down the right. Bower blocked another shot, this time from Haslam, before the Badger's substitute extended their lead. A long ball found Haslam in oceans of space down the right, he raced into the box before calmly planting it in the net. Thackley won a couple of free kicks on the edge of the box, Bett blasted over from the first, from the second James Firth
headed the ball back to Mallinson, but his lob cleared the bar. Retford scored a third, Slack taking his time to pick his spot after Haslam had again been put in the clear and provided the cross. There were jubilant celebrations from the Retford players when the referee blew his whistle to call an end to the match.
Although the Dennyboys had worked hard throughout the match, their build up play lacked any penetration and created few chances, Retford deserved their victory on the night. Our congratulations go to the Badgers on becoming League Champions.
Next Monday, the Dennyboys play Shirebrook Town in the League Cup Final at Parkgate, this match gives them a chance to finish the season in style.
Retford United team : Fisher; Baugh; Austin; Hayes; Nightingale; Chambers (C); Colton; Hatfield; Snowden (Haslem); Slack; Scott (Brown). Subs not used : Mellon; Carty; Hall.
Thackley team : Bower; Ratcliffe; M Morgan (C); Mallinson; Firth; L Morgan; C White (Rhodes); Davey; Kendall; D White; Joseph (Bett). Subs not used : Moore; Hall (GK).
Retford United scorers : Warren Hatfield 46 mins; Carl Haslam 74 mins; Karl Slack 86 mins.
Attendance : 338.
Referee : Stephen Wade