Saturday 17th August 2019
NCEL Division One
The Rail, Retford
Retford F.C. 2-1 Hallam F.C.
Report by Rich Williams
This was always going to be the toughest test for Retford, who faced a Hallam side that went so close to being promoted back to the NCEL Premier Division last season. The Countrymen are the second oldest football club in the world and have never missed a season in the NCEL since its inception in 1982.
For the third straight game Chris Woodhead named the same line-up and for the third straight game the Choughs took maximum points. They rode their luck at times and had to graft but their spirit and work ethic saw them over the line.
Having hit the front early in both their previous games, The Choughs did exactly the same here, scoring with their first attack of the game. Just under 10 minutes on the clock when Toby Rutherford stole the ball and fed Will Tomlinson. Retford’s experienced front man hooking on a brilliantly weighted pass to Adam Scott to run clear and lift the ball over the advancing Leverton.
Hallam responded immediately with a screamer from Richard Tootle, who reacted quickest to Tom Burgin’s clearance from a corner and hit a stunning 30 yard half volley that dipped over Kennedy and was simply unstoppable.
The Choughs back line was tested regularly during the first half by numerous Hallam set pieces but it was the hosts who had the clearest chances. The best of which saw Leverton block Haydn Goddard’s near post effort after a great combination between Goddard, Street and Bilham.
Street then tested the waters himself as he blasted over the bar after great footwork on the edge of the box. At the other end Kennedy spilled a drive from Turner into the path of Wraith but recovered well to save. Street showed good work again but he tried to square the ball when he may have been better shooting.
Towards the end of the half Hallam had a collection of corners but the Choughs held out well.
The second half began with the visitors on the front foot but Retford almost went back in front when the wind caught hold of Rutherford’s cross field ball and drifted it agonisingly past Leverton’s upright.
Kennedy was then booked as he raced from his goal and caught Turner late but Retford cleared the resulting free kick. Further chances came and went for the visitors the best of which fell to Bishop who couldn’t keep his header down despite being all alone at the back post. Tyler Bradley headed over from a corner as the visitors continued to probe.
Retford’s first real attack of the second half produced the winning goal as Street was taken out in the box on another mazy run, allowing Will Tomlinson to make amends for last week’s penalty miss by smashing the ball past Leverton.
Hallam tried in vain to find a second equaliser as a Bishop effort from distance was deflected behind by Severn, and Jordan Turner found space in behind before a brilliant save from Kennedy denied him. The nearest they came though was a brilliant curling effort from Samuel Fewkes, which met an equally brilliant save from Kennedy.
Despite a lengthy period of added time The Choughs hung on to what they had and continue their 100% start to their first ever NCEL season. Man of the match was awarded to Jon Kennedy
Retford F.C. - Jon Kennedy (c), Toby Rutherford (Joe Knowles, 56), Haydn Goddard, Graeme Severn, Will Tomlinson, Tom Burgin, Adam Scott, Oli Bilham, Shay Evans-Booth (Paul Middleton, 86), Josh Street (Tom Gilmore, 84), Jack Johnson.
Unused Subs - Nath Reah, Dec Heath.
Hallam F.C. - James Leverton, Macole Lannaman, Richard Tootle, Danny Booth (Tom Roebuck, 73), Julian Lawrence, Tyler Bradley, Will Wraith (Jason Stokes, 62), James Reed, Jordan Turner, Samuel Fewkes Micah Bishop
Unused Subs—Liam Donoghue, Tom Staniland