After not playing at Cannon Park since the 1st of February, it was certainly good to be playing at home. The Badgers were hoping to bounce back from cup defeat against Sherwood Colliery last week. With a win against Staveley they would progress through to the Semi-finals and face Collingham, a team that we have already played twice this season. We have beaten them at home and drew away. We had played Staveley once before last night and that resulted in a very frustrating draw.
The Badgers were boosted by the return of Mark West who started up front with Dean Conway. Jack Walters returned to the centre of midfield after playing at full back for the last few months. Walters had been impressive at full back, but tonight he would certainly be more influential further up the pitch with his passing ability. Alex Bartholomew got a rare start at Centre back as he partnered club captain Tom Brook. From the off, Retford were on the attack. Through the middle and down the wings via Adam Daughtrey and Igor Mlynarski. Staveley were on the back foot. However they defended brilliantly, reading the Retford attack and intercepting passes. They also had a strong line catching the Badgers offside on many occasions. On the 27th minute Walters played a lovely ball through to Daughtrey on the right. Adam played a lovely cross in to the box where Conway won the header, the ball flew towards goal but the opposition keeper jumped up and made a respectable save. The Badgers had other chances through shots from outside the box from Lawrence and Mlynarski however they were stopped as well.
The opener came on the 41st minute when once again Daughtrey was looking dangerous down the right hand side. This time playing in a low cross for Conway to hit it first time into the goal. A very composed finish from Dean puts the Badgers ahead. The second came only two minutes later when West ran on to ball that had cut through the middle of the two central defenders, leaving Mark one on one with the keeper. West hit it to the keeper’s right. He failed to get a strong hand to it meaning it was now two nil to the Badgers. The goals marked off a good end to the half. Staveley hadn’t looked a threat on the attack until the second half when in the 47th minute they hit the post from a good shot from outside the box. Brook and Bartholomew worked extremely hard in defence to stop the Staveley attacks. They did well to distribute the ball to Lawrence and Dawson or into Abdulla and Walters in midfield, all night. The Badgers recycled the ball superbly for the whole 90 and made things easy for themselves.
The next goal was going to be extremely important to this game as the Badgers started to feel some Déjà vu when the last game versus Staveley ended 2-2 after Retford had a 2nil lead at half time. We had just entered the final third and Danny Abdulla played a lovely ball through to Dean Conway on the right side. He had beaten the offside trap and charged at pace towards the goal. The Staveley defence were quick to get back. Dean cut inside to beat one of them and then went past the other with ease. The ball hit the back of the net before you could tell he’d shot. What a goal! With a three goal lead you’d have thought the Badgers would relax and concentrate on defending however in this case they hunted for more goals. Igor was unlucky not to get one after he hit it sweetly on the volley, however the keeper was equal to it. Alex Bennett finally got his senior appearance when he came on for Daughtrey. Walters was also replaced by Cory Goodwin. What a performance from Daughtrey and Walters, was so instrumental in the first half and carried that on into the second. The last twenty minutes saw a great performance from Bennett, who fitted in nicely with the rest of the team. The Badgers had chances for a forth but were unable to take them. On the 89th minute Staveley scored but it was ruled offside by the linesman on the near side. The referee blew his whistle to bring the game to an end.
The Badgers had won with a performance to be proud of and would now progress through to the Semi-finals of the Floodlit Cup. That fixture will take place on Tuesday 24th March at Cannon Park against Collingham FC. Liam awarded Man of the Match to Danny Abdulla for his pivotal performance in midfield. The Badgers next fixture is this Saturday versus AFC Bentley, once again at Cannon Park and is a 15:00 KO. Up the Badgers!