Thursday 5th December 2019
North Midlands Development Football League U21 Division
The Rail, Retford
Retford F.C. U21 6-0 Mansfield Hosiery Mills U21
The Chough’s youngsters are up to fourth ahead of their trip to Harworth next week and have a renewed confidence and swagger about their play that recent results have most definitely contributed to. For the first time since February they have won three in a row and for just the second time in their short history.
With Shay Evans-Booth and Liam Bennett both back in contention, Rich Williams showed faith in the players that had beaten Handsworth last time out, making no changes to his starting eleven. It was good to know thought that had things not gone to plan the leading U21s goal-scorer and a proven player at this level were able to come from the bench.
The first half was a scrappy affair, the Choughs not playing with the intensity that they had against Handsworth and with too large a gap between the back four and the midfield. In truth they were never really trouble by the visitors who despite some neat build up lacked a cutting edge with the new look Retford back four looking relatively comfortable.
That said Retford didn’t create much in the way of opportunities themselves and as the game meandered towards half time, the only effort of note was a long range punt from Presley which sailed harmlessly over the crossbar. They also lost the inform Callum Wilson to a head injury after 22 minutes which left the Choughs striker needing stitches. His replacement wasn't a bad one as Evans-Booth entered the fray boasting 23 goals in 16 appearances for the Choughs development team.
The fact that Retford went in with a lead was flattering, but after Luke Abdy was bundled over just inside the penalty area they did just that. Kris Scott for the second time in two games keeping his cool to roll home the spot kick.
The second half was a much more one-sided affair, with the home side working harder, pressing relentlessly, forcing mistakes and playing some stunning football which ripped their visitors apart.
The second goal came three minutes into the second half from a Hosiery Mills mistake as pressing from Evans-Booth and Abdy forced an errant pass which was read and intercepted brilliantly by Sikhosana. The diminutive winger sliding the ball under the advancing Kingston to make the score 2-0.
Six minutes later the game was put to bed with a brilliant individual goal from the impressive Owen Clarke. Clarke cutting in from the left and beating three men as he worked a shooting angle and found the net off the inside of the post.
Retford were now dominant and only a brilliant save from Kingston denied Evans-Booth befor Will Hunter saw his bid for a first Retford goal drop agonisingly wide after a deflection off a recovering defender.
Evans-Booth scored the first of a brace with just under twenty minutes remaining, sitting the goalkeeper down before rolling the ball into the bottom corner after a pass from Clarke. A minute later he got his second as Retford regained possession from the kick-off and Luke Abdy burst into the box, realised the angle was too tight and brilliantly rolled the ball into the path of Evans-Booth for an easy tap in at the back post.
Kris Scott then rattled the bar and Sikhosana wasted a chance for his second as he shot straight at the keeper after the ball dropped to him in the box. But Retford weren’t finished and more hard work resulted in Clarke and Evans-Booth racing clear together with the former slotting the ball past Kingston for his second of the evening.
Manager Rich Williams described this performance as ‘the best’ he had ‘seen us for a very long time’. It certainly looks like this rebuilt team is beginning to find it’s identity and the spirit amongst the lads is now one of positivity and promise. Man of the match for Retford was awarded to Owen Clarke.
The young Choughs now have a tough visit Harworth next Thursday for their final game before the league takes its Christmas break. A victory would potentially put them in the top three at Christmas, after the start to the season they made it’s a position they would be more than happy to be in.
Retford F.C. U21s: Adam Hicks (c), Will Hunter, Myles Cassidy (Louis Hubner, 63), Olly Presley, Reuben Brewin-Hawkins, Kian Goodall (Liam Bennett, 55), Dalton Sikhosana, Kris Scott, Callum Wilson (Shay Evans-Booth, 22), Luke Abdy (George Hudson, 75), Owen Clarke.
Unused Sub: Martin Woodhead.
Mansfield Hosiery Mills U21s: Tom Kingston, Dan Best, Connor Bower, Josh Copeman, Ben Morley, Curtis Smith, Kieron Johnson, Taylor Bagshaw, Kian Brewin, Brandon Richards, Benjamin Tunnicliffe.
Subs (all used): Jacob Ward, Joe McCarthy, Dylan Marshall