Monday, October 8, 2007
Retford United 1 Nantwich Town 2
Did you see Dida, AC Milan’s goalkeeper at Celtic Park the other night? Christ almighty, he went down quicker than the Italian Army in the Second World War. Fair play to him though, have you ever smelt a Scotsman’s breath after a dozen tinnies of Tartan Ale?
I’ve had my eye on coming to Retford for a while now, and this mouth-watering fixture versus Cheshire’s Nantwich Town fits the bill perfectly.
Retford is a market town in North Notts with a population of just over 20,000. Famous people from this area include: Stoke City’s Liam Lawrence and the greatest fielder the world has ever seen (apart from me) Derek Randall – Arkle to his friends.
103 year old resident, Esme Collins, has been in the news this week; she was turfed out a nursing home after the owners insisted on a further £100 a week. Sadly she didn’t last a week at her new abode.
The A46 and A614, which I travel up today is a drive down National Coal Board memory lane. I pass signposts for Cotgrave, Calverton, Blidworth, Rainworth, Bilsthorpe and Ollerton; the pits are gone but never forgotten.
I drive past Clumber Park and skirt around Retford town centre. Cannon Park is on the edge of Retford, it’s a handsome setting, and parking is free. It’s £6 to get in, with a further £1.50 for a supreme programme.
It’s 2.30pm and already busy. The Cannon Park Social Club is a hidden treasure, as good as it gets, only Gainsborough Trinity has topped it for me. Everything a clubhouse should have is here: endless photos on the wall, trophies, replica shirts, table football and a pool table.
Three generations of families sit together, unfortunately they’re watching the rugby, thankfully my back is turned to the telly. I ask you, who wants to watch a bunch of Coppers and barristers throwing an egg around? I swig my pint of Grolsch at £2.60.
Retford United are managed by ex-Blade, Peter Duffield, whilst the visitors, Nantwich, have former Barnsley defender Steve Davis as boss. Both teams are bang in form and something has to give. Retford’s Barbadian international, Neil Harvey and former Sheff Utd winger, Adrian Littlejohn, are both absent today. That’s disappointed me.
The Badgers have had a meteoric rise up the non-league rankings; it was only a few years ago that they played in the Notts Alliance. They were only formed in 1987. Nantwich Town won the FA Vase in 2005/2006.
The hosts look nervous from the start, as if the weight of being league leaders is a burden on their shoulders. In comparison the Dabbers are not short of confidence and are on an unbeaten run of their own.
Retford try to out muscle them and after a few heavy challenges pay the price. Impish winger Danny Griggs catches the home defence cold with a quickly taken free-kick, 1-0 Nantwich. The visitors are cavalier in their approach and are always looking to play their wingers in.
Retford continue to give away possession cheaply and it’s soon 2-0, with a firm header from Bott from yet another accurate cross from Griggs, after he had once again shown the home defence a clean pair of heels.
Retford are all over the show and swap full-backs to no avail. Nantwich 7 jacket, Ashley Carter, is a class act, he is poetry in motion on the ball; he runs inside and out and bamboozles the Badgers’ defence on every occasion. He is like a gazelle. Retford are lucky to be only two down at the break. Everyone is having a good old moan about the ref, but for me he allows the game to flow.
After the break, Retford play with more purpose and passion, there’s more movement and pace. Godber reduces the deficit and the visitor’s baton up the hatches for the final quarter.
Ryan Hindley drives forward with the ball but it’s not meant to be. They pay the price for a sloppy first forty five. Rob Hackney, the Dabbers’ keeper uses his large frame to effect and makes some fine blocks.
Simpkins and Chambers are powerful at the rear for Retford, they aren’t up against any real pace today, but where the visitors are really clever is that there front two play in the wingers on both flanks, where they get round the back. I can’t wait to see Nantwich again; they could be this season’s Cammell Laird.
Retford Utd 1 Godber Nantwich Town 2 Griggs and Bott
Man of the Match: Ashley Carter.