Tuesday 20th August 2019
NCEL Division One
The Rail, Retford
Retford F.C. 4-4 Dronfield Town
Report by Rich Williams
There used to be a game that started with the words ‘Never have I ever’ and tonight was one of those moments. Never have I ever been part of a game where I have experienced the emotional rollercoaster which saw Retford remain unbeaten since January 5th.
January the 5th saw Retford’s only league defeat since August 2018, this set of lads know how to win. From that 0-3 defeat to Collingham the Choughs have won 14 straight league games which saw them to last season’s title and the top of the NCEL Division One at the start of this season. It was a record which everyone assumed was coming to an end as The Choughs trailed 4-0 at the break having being completely outplayed in the first half.
In the only change from the first three games Joe Knowles replaced Toby Rutherford at right back, however for the first 35 minutes Retford looked like a side that had never played together before as mistake after mistake was punished by their rampant visitors.
Josh Street had the best chance of the opening exchanges as he turned his man before firing across Lewis Naylor’s goal.
From then on Dronfield were dominant for the remainder of the first half and in a horrendous spell of twenty-two minutes for the hosts it looked like they were going to slip to a first competitive defeat in eight months.
Firstly, the usually reliable Jon Kennedy spilled a centre from Sam Bebbington and Dronfield captain Stuart Hill poked the ball over the line. Five minutes later, Bebbington turned from provider to scorer as he headed home a pinpoint cross from Danny Wood.
It was 3-0 to the visitors after just 22 minutes when Ethan Flower curled a free-kick inside Kennedy’s near post. Kennedy getting hands to the effort but being unable to keep it out. 4-0 followed just after the half hour as Billy Wright’s deep cross was met by right back Bebbington to head home his second of the game and leave Retford stunned.
Adam Scott served ten minutes in the sin bin as frustration grew and the only signs of life the Choughs showed were in winning a corner in the last minute of the half which Tom Burgin headed into the side netting.
The second half brought one of the greatest turnarounds ever witnessed in the game. All hope seemed to fade just eight minutes into the second half as Josh Street saw red for a nasty challenge on Flower at a time when Goddard was in the sin bin reducing Retford to nine men. However, this along with the introduction of Tom Gilmore galvanised the hosts who never gave up and the improbable happened.
With eighteen minutes remaining Retford trailed 4-0 when Shay Evans-Booth curled a free-kick round the wall from 20 yards out, beating Naylor low to his left. Most thought consolation for the ten men, but six minutes after the first Will Tomlinson chested the ball into the path of Jack Johnson who rammed the ball past Naylor at his near post to half the arrears.
Six minutes of normal time remained when Tomlinson was hauled down on the edge of the area and Evans-Booth stepped up again, this time smashing the ball over the wall into the top corner and the deficit was just one. Cue delirium four minutes into stoppage time as Dronfield failed to clear their lines and Johnson got enough on the ball to guide it past Naylor and send the crowd of 152 home thoroughly entertained and having conversations about how they couldn’t believe what they had just seen. The Choughs have ten points from the opening twelve in the league this season with Parkgate next on the horizon.
Retford F.C. - Jon Kennedy (c), Joe Knowles, Haydn Goddard (Paul Middleton, 72), Graeme Severn, Will Tomlinson, Tom Burgin, Adam Scott (Tom Gilmore, 63), Oli Bilham, Shay Evans-Booth, Josh Street , Jack Johnson.
Unused Subs - Nath Reah, Toby Rutherford, Dec Heath.
Dronfield Town - Lewis Naylor, Sam Bebbington, Billy Wright (Aaran Bovill, 45), Ash Rawson, Alex Pugh, Stuart Hill (c), Ethan Flower, Lawrie Wilson (Charlie Stewart, 64), Blake Owen , Danny Wood, Matty Ord (Alex Mosley, 69).
Unused Subs - Richard Mintoft, Nick Siddons