Monday, 11 April 2011

Retford United 0 – 2 Halifax Town; 09/04/11.


One of the less flattering stats I can uncover for the Shaymen is that previous to our title-winning match at Retford this Saturday, we hadn't kept a clean sheet on aggregate against any team we'd played twice or more this season. For example, we beat Burscough 2–0 away and 3–2 at home, Ashton lost 3–0 at home to us and 1–0 away to us, but scored against us in the FA Cup, etc. Retford's statistics for this game said it all though. Shots off target: 0. Shots on target: 0. Corners: 0. So for a team who made a few attacks in the game, how did they not get any shooting practice? Throw-ins, dear reader. Retford is the European capital of the long throw-in, and the Badgers even hit the post with one this weekend.

Prior to the great badger cull, we'd drawn to Matlock to deny us the title last weekend. On Wednesday, Buxton could no longer catch us up when ex-Shaymen Andy Campbell scored the only goal for Whitby to beat them at the Turnbull Ground. This meant Colwyn could only overtake us . . . if they overcame a goal difference of 54 on us. With Retford propping up the table for the entirety of the season and Colwyn at Buxton, we were DEFINITELY DEFINITELY going to win.

That we did. It took us a little while to work out the pitch at Cannon Park, which had gone from swamp-like when we played there against Worksop in February to like a chicken's mudbath, and then we proceeded to play friendly-style football against a team filled with self-hatred. This self-hatred peaked at around 20 minutes when their #2 and #7 started fighting. Believe in your team, Retford. Cannon Park is still shockingly small and it was almost pointless to sing on hard standing. The park ground I went to today could've held more fans due to its grassy banks, and save the odd dandelion, the pitch was in a similar condition.

Our goal came when we broke on the 23rd minute, Vardy laying it to Lee Gregory who dodged it in an offside position, leaving Holland to come from nowhere. Clean through, he let the ball tumble in from the edge of the box. Two Town fans got on the pitch. Soon after Vardy almost did the same, but took it too far. A few minutes later the Town fans nearly got as noisy again: the lino made a poor decision to award them a goal kick, and when he ran off down the touchline, the flag fell off its stick. He retreated in embarrassment. A few Shaymen stole my "You should've got some Evo-Stik!" line. Liam Hogan made a textbook header from a Garner corner at the close of the half to satisfactorily put us 2–0 up.

The second half was low on entertainment, I'm afraid, but Baker and Holland were very watchable as individuals. I'd be a little worried by this scoreline normally, but the Town were going up. At the final whistle we invaded the pitch. Having done such a rigorous circuit on Friday evening instead of leaping over the barrier I collapsed over it, my sunglasses falling off pitifully, which the Shaymen Player just about missed out on filming, thank god. The Retford players wished us the best and for the next ten minutes we celebrated with our now-topless players in an open rural ground in north Nottinghamshire. The fans jumped up and down singing under a huge FC Halifax Town flag with our all-time top-scorer James Dean. If there's something football's lacking as you go up the leagues . . .

Today is Sunday 10th April. Temperatures have been above 20ºC for the best part of the day. We have five league games left, but today our pre-season began. We'll be looking at how to play in the Conference North, who to pick and who to say goodbye to. We've begun a long promotion party and I hope that you can attend.

Retford United 0 – 2 Halifax Town; att. 829
Match: 5/10
Atmosphere: 8/10
Food: 5/10
Drink: N/A, no ale
Bar: dark and showing the Grand National, yawn
People: didn't see any!
Programme: 6/10
Town: N/A
Ground: 1/10
Talent: 5/10
Overall day: 9/10


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