Thursday 21st November 2019
North Midlands Development Football League U21 Division
The Rail, Retford
Retford F.C. U21 3-2 Handsworth F.C. U21
Report by Rich Williams
What a difference a win makes. With renewed confidence on the back of their win against Swallownest last time out, Retford went from beating the league’s basement side to the league’s best as they came away from their clash against leaders Handsworth F.C. with all three points.
A second straight victory for the U21s who made only necessary changes on a night when not many gave them any chance of getting a result against the four times reigning champions from Sheffield. Myles Cassidy replaced Will Lyon at left back, Kian Goodall went back to centre back to replace Toby Rutherford, Dalton Sikhosana replaced Goodall in midfield, whilst Luke Abdy replaced the suspended Declan Heath in midfield.
The enormity of this task was exacerbated by the fact that the young choughs were without Shay Evans-Booth, Nath Reah, Jeanio Joby, Dec Heath, Toby Rutherford, Liam Bennett, Robbie Collingburn and Will Lyon. All regular starters in the previous campaign.
This though was a result born from confidence, desire and a work ethic which saw the 12 players that were involved leave absolutely nothing on the pitch.
Early chances were at a premium with both defences on top which reduced both sides to a couple of set pieces which were cleared without alarm.
It was going to be important with the limited amount of chances to take them when they came and Retford did just that on 23 minutes when Callum Wilson was sent clear behind the defence to produce an outstanding finish lifting the ball over the advancing James Gamble.
Handsworth’s best opportunities for an equaliser came through a free kick which cannoned back off the post and when Rene Marsden weaved his way into the box only to be forced wide by good work from Reuben Brewin-Hawkins and Kian Goodall.
Retford’s lead at half time justified their hard work and ability to keep a solid shape in the first half but they knew they would need to work doubly hard in the second half to get the result they wanted.
Handsworth came at the hosts in the second half and Rene Marsden had a brilliant chance to equalise as he headed wide from a left wing centre when unmarked in the box before Ryan Dixon rounded Adam Hicks and somehow managed to find only the side netting. The pressure finally told in the 59th minute as Callum Walton danced his way along the edge of the box before curling the ball beyond Hicks to finish.
Retford at the beginning of the season would have crumbled, but they didn't and the move of the match saw them regain the lead eleven minutes later. Hunter feeding Clarke on the right and Clarke looked up before playing a superb first time ball into the path of Callum Wilson for him to roll the ball beyond Gamble into the corner. A great counter attacking goal from The Choughs.
Again they held their shape magnificently, being hard to break down and working hard and Clarke who had an excellent game gained the penalty that would prove the winner as he drove into the box leaving Handsworth no option but to foul him. Kris Scott keeping his nerve and rolling the ball into the net from twelve yards.
That looked to be the end of it as Ethan Hobson was sin binned for his comments to the referee in the wake of the penalty award, but from the kick off Handsworth drove forward and scored. Will Hunter lost his footing on the edge of the box as he looked to clear and with Adam Hicks having come from his line he was helpless to stop Owen Darwent lifting the ball over him and into an unguarded goal.
However, Retford held on to what they had and can take great credit as they made it back to back victories with a superb performance from a very young side with an average age of just over 18. Man of the Match for the Choughs would be a tough call but the two centre halves were outstanding with Reuben Brewin-Hawkins maybe just shading it. Next week the young Choughs are on their travels with a visit to Mansfield Hosiery Mills on Wednesday night.
Retford F.C. U21s: Adam Hicks, Will Hunter, Myles Cassidy (Louis Hubner, 69), Olly Presley, Reuben Brewin-Hawkins, Kian Goodall, Dalton Sikhosana, Kris Scott, Callum Wilson, Luke Abdy, Owen Clarke.
Unused Subs: George Hudson, Ethan Cowan.
Handsworth F.C. U21s: James Gamble. Maxim Hague, Ellis Moore, Callum Geelan, Ethan Hobson, Joe Parkin, Callum Walton, Jack Charlesworth, Rene Marsden, Mohamed Saeed, Ryan Dixon.
Subs (all used): Ellis B. Moore, Owen Darwent, Ricky Hall, Alex Stacey, Laurence Ward.