Gedling MW ............ 1 (Wiggins-Thomas 85')
Radford FC ............. 2 (Ceesay 22', Law 45+2')
Gedling Miners Welfare were beaten for a third successive match in a tight, topsy-turvy derby against Radford at Plains Road. First half goals from Buba Ceesay and Callum Law deservedly put the visitors in control before Gedling were reduced to ten men. They did rally late on with Ruben Wiggins-Thomas pulling one back but try as they might they could not salvage a point.
The game was played in treacherous conditions with torrential rain falling throughout. It took both sides a few minutes to adapt to this and find their rhythm early on which meant a scrappy opening to the game.
It was the visitors who enjoyed the upper hand in the opening few minutes with Ceesay shooting narrowly wide from a promising position within the first 60 seconds.
A free kick then deceived Keaton Sharpe in the Gedling goal, who missed his punch, and watched as the ball sailed just wide of his far post.
In the seventh minute Law made a mazy run with the ball and worked himself a good shooting opportunity inside the right hand side of the box. However, just as he pulled the trigger Felix Hogg made a brilliant last ditch recovery challenge to block the shot and the chance was gone.
It was nine minutes before Gedling created anything of note. Greg Tempest whipped in a dangerous corner that deceived the Radford defence. The hosts had two shots well blocked before the ball bounced to Wiggins-Thomas but his prod goalwards was easily collected by the Radford ‘keeper Joe Searson.
The visitors promptly regained control after the brief scare and on 17 minutes they were close to taking the lead. Ash Smith weaved through the Gedling defence and hit a fierce shot that Keaton Sharpe did excellently to palm away with both hands.
This was a warning of the attacking threat that Radford possessed but it was one which Gedling did not heed. Seven minutes later, Mamoke Akauna made a strong burst down the right, shrugging off his marker in the process. He then slid the ball down the wing and into the path of Law. He drove towards the byline and delivered an inviting low cross that evaded Keaton Sharpe and was turned into the gaping net by Ceesay.
The hosts responded well and Kieran Harrison was unlucky not to draw them level five minutes later when his brilliant free kick from the left edge of the area struck the top of the crossbar.
With five minutes until the break, Gedling almost equalised when Tempest headed Steven Brett’s clipped delivery into the box goalwards. The ball looked destined for the bottom corner but Searson, at full stretch, turned it away.
Just as the half time whistle was about to sound, Gedling were made to pay for a momentary lapse in concentration. Brett knocked the ball back to Sharpe but his pass scarcely had enough pace to reach him. Sharpe managed to get to it but with Law bearing down on him, he didn’t manage to clear it quickly enough. Law won the ball and raced clean through. He slotted the ball into the unguarded net to give the visitors a useful cushion.
The half time team talk clearly galvanised the hosts as they started positively after the break. Within two minutes Courtney Hastings collected the ball on the edge of the area with his back to goal, turned his man and fired a shot against the post with the ‘keeper beaten.
After coming agonisingly close to getting back into the game, a couple of minutes later the game was almost put beyond them as Radford created a good chance of their own. Smith’s shot from the edge of the area brought the best out of Sharpe who beat it away.
This only increased Gedling’s determination to get back into the match and moments later Hastings raced clean through but just as he was about to shoot Searson came charging out of his area and won the ball with a well timed challenge.
Undeterred, the hosts continued to push forward, Felix Hogg whipped in a superb cross from the right which Tempest connected with from six yards out but side footed wide of the target.
With just over an hour gone and Gedling enjoying the better of the second half, the turning point in the match came when the referee showed Hogg a second yellow card for an innocuous looking challenge.
As Hogg left the field shaking his head in disbelief it seemed plausible that Gedling’s hopes of getting anything out of the match would evaporate and that Radford would be able to comfortably see the game out. However, the opposite turned out to be true.
Gedling threw caution to the wind and it was difficult to tell which side was a man down. Finally they were rewarded, as with five minutes to play, Tempest whipped in an inviting ball from the left wing and Wiggins-Thomas slid in to meet it on the half volley. The ball nestled into the top corner of the net and gave the visitors hope that they might be able to pull off a stunning comeback to pinch a point.
They pushed forward, pinning Radford back in their own half. Josh Thornton whipped a cross in from the right and it appeared to flick a defender’s arm in the box. Despite huge cries for a penalty, the referee waved the protests away.
Tempest then had the best chance with a sweetly struck shot that looked to be destined for the back of the net but Matt Hopewell, the Radford captain, made a heroic block with his face and the ball bounced away to safety.
The full time whistle sounded shortly afterwards to confirm Gedling’s third defeat of the season and Radford’s first victory.
Manager Andy Clerke said: “The first half wasn’t good enough to be honest. It was tight, it was expected to be, it’s a local derby, there’s enough players that have played for both teams. There wasn’t a lot in it but we were nowhere near where we should have been in the first half, we were so far off what we’re capable of and we deserved to go into the break two goals down. And they got a rocket and they deserved to get that at half time. Yes, we reacted, five minutes into the second half Courtney hit the post, we suddenly had chances flowing, we looked like we could very quickly bounce back into the game.
“Then came the red and that’s changed everything. It was a massive decision, our player doesn’t think he’s done anything, I’m not hearing any complaints from Radford players to say he did anything. Felix isn’t a dirty player. Massive turning point and it’s gone against us.
“It’s the start of the season, yes it’s frustrating, we’ve been beaten three times on the bounce which isn’t good enough for the squad we believe we've got here and our aspirations for the season but let’s not panic just yet.”
Gedling Miners Welfare Man of the Match – Greg Tempest
Match Attendance – 112
Referee- James McNee
Assistant referees- Matt Basterfield and Jevon Swinscoe
Gedling Miners Welfare –
Keaton Sharpe, Dwayne Brown (Abdau Cole 78’), Steven Brett, Kieran Harrison (Josh Gardner 78’), Ross McCaughey, Felix Hogg, Josh Thornton (C) , Greg Tempest, Kyme Mason (Charlie Roberts 66’), Courtney Hastings, Ruben Wiggins-Thomas.
Unused Substitutes – Tony Law, Jordan Knight.
Cautions – Felix Hogg 45’& 61’
Radford- Joe Searson, Ryan Ebanks, Matt Hopewell (C) , Rob Manners, Finley Troup, Matt Cragg, Joe Meakin, Buba Ceesay, Callum Law, Ash Smith, Mamoke Akauna.
Substitutes- Errol Campbell, Kieran Jalland, Harry Pezzolla
Unused Substitutes- Funzi Maveso, Liam Smallwood
Cautions- Matt Cragg