Chairman’s Cup Final: Retford United 3-1 Mickleover Reserves
The final game of the 2020/2021 season was upon us and even better it was a cup final. After the way the last two seasons had finished this seemed like a great opportunity to win some silverware and finish on a high going into the next season. With it being a final it had to be played at a neutral ground, so the BT Local Business Stadium was the venue. The home of Sheffield FC, the oldest football club in the world. Our opponents were Mickleover Reserves, a very polished side from the Premier Southern Division. It was a perfect day for it, blue skies and sunshine.
The Badgers made one change from the team that beat Crowle in the semi-finals, Dean Conway returned to replace Sam Foulds in the starting 11. In the first minute Retford witnessed the pace of the Mickleover attack as they glided through and nearly got a very early goal. They would’ve made the breakthrough if it wasn’t for an incredible double save from Tom Crosby. It was definitely a wake up call. The Badgers first chance came in the 6th minute when McDonnell volleyed from the edge of the box. The keeper made a strong save. In the 10th minute Crosby was forced back into action and made the save of the season. Keeping out a shot that was headed straight for the bottom corner. The Mickleover forward was in disbelief about that one.
Only a few minutes later the Badgers had to clear it off their own line as Mickleover continued to press and create dangerous chances. Tom Brook put the ball in the back of the net in the 21st minute but was flagged for offside. The Badgers had now got more possession and Mickleover’s flurries of attack had stopped. The Badgers had weathered the storm and it was now their chance to turn the tides. In the 31st minute Igor Mlynarski picked up the ball on the left hand side, beat the full back, cut inside and smashed it in the bottom right corner. What a goal! United got their mojo back and didn’t stop there. Only eight minutes later they had their second. Oliver Lawrence put a fantastic cross from the right side to Conway at the far side of the box. Dean headed the ball across to the other side of the goal giving the keeper no chance. Another incredible finish from the Badgers. Retford went in at half time with a two goal lead but it could’ve been a very different story if it wasn’t for Tom Crosby’s first half performance.
It was a disaster start to the second half for the Badgers as Mickleover won a penalty on the 47th minute. They dispatched it into the bottom left corner. Crosby got a finger to it but it wasn’t enough to keep it out. It was going to be a long second half. The Badgers continued to create chances and defended very well. Brook, Paling and Ludlam all worked very hard. Abdulla and Barlow were vital in the midfield, winning the majority of the battles. Brandon Kane’s effort in the 61st minute came close to a third goal, his long range effort went wide by a few inches. Jonathan Fusco and Kosi Nwobi came on to replace Dean Conway and Mason Barlow. And later Aaron Austin came on to replace Igor Mylrnarski who had been causing problems for the Mickleover right back all game. Crosby made another phenomenal save in the 78th minute, what a day he was having.
Mickleover realised time was running out to get an equaliser, so they committed more players forward. The Badgers adjusted to this with more sitting back. In the 86th minute Kosi Nwobi broke through the midfield and carried on to dribble the ball forward. It was a great run. He played it inside to Fusco who smashed it into the top right corner. All three goals were good on the day, but this felt like the best with the relief it gave all the Badgers fans. The technique was also superb. The Badgers defended well for the final few minutes and eventually the ref blew the whistle for full time.
The Badgers were the Chairman’s Cup Winners. What a performance from the team and now they could rightly celebrate. Everyone felt emotional with the hard work being put in from the team and everyone involved behind the scenes. Tom Crosby was rightly awarded Man of the Match for his solid performance. A massive thank you to all the fans that came and supported the lads, we can always count on you. Also a big thanks to Jon Matthews who took some amazing pictures on an amazing day for the club. See you all in July for a packed Pre-season. This was the perfect way to end the season.
“Up the Badgers”