There was a significantly improved performance from Dronfield Town on a damp Tuesday evening at the HE Barnes Stadium and there was visible disappointment that visitors Retford FC managed to secure a point with two late Jack Johnson headers. Town dominated for fully eighty four minutes before Johnson’s late intervention in a game that also saw a sin bin sending off for either side. The draw breaks Dronfield’s five game losing streak allowing them to recharge ahead of another midweek trip to Worsbrough Bridge in seven days time.
After early chances for Retford’s Casburn and Dronfield’s Danny Wood, it was the home side who were to break the deadlock. Dronfield exerted early pressure on the Retford defence and it was left to Callum Mawbey to finish with his unfavoured right foot with just seven minutes on the clock.
Dronfield suffered the early blow of skipper Stuart Hill leaving the game after only nine minutes but his replacement Tom Fairweather proved to be more than adequate.
Mark Fereday headed just over on 19 minutes from a testing Charlie Stewart cross and it took an error in the Dronfield defence on 24 minutes between Lewis Naylor and his centre backs that allowed Will Tomlinson in and finished with Adam Scott’s shot going just wide.
Mawbey saw his shot cleared off the line just two minutes later with Fereday skying over after on the follow up.
A half where Dronfield completely took the game to Retford ended with Danny Wood hitting one narrowly past the post after great hold up play from Mawbey.
Retford introduced Luke Abdy and George White at half time but Dronfield continued in much the same vein; putting pressure on the Retford defence and playing at a healthy tempo.
Fereday saw his shot deflected on 55 minutes after a neat flick from Mawbey and Town doubled their lead in the 68th minute.
Danny Wood was adjudged to have been brought down in the area by Liam Bennett, who received a spell in the sin bin for his troubles. Mark Fereday stepped up and placed his penalty low to Jon Kennedy’s right to double Dronfield’s advantage.
Dronfield were relentless in taking the game to their visitors. Danny Wood put the ball straight into Kennedy’s hands from Jamie Willis’ cross and Wood’s cross come shot fizzed across goal just moments later.
Fereday saw his fierce left footer tipped over by Kennedy and then another effort marginally clear the bar as the game moved into the final ten minutes.
Retford threw caution to the wind, employing three at the back and it brought dividends with six minutes remaining. Abdy’s ball in from the right was met by the head of Jack Johnson, who made no mistake from close range at 2-1.
Retford’s Tomlinson received a yellow card in an encounter with Dronfield’s Alex Pugh. Out of the ensuing melee, Town’s Sam Bebbington was sent to the bench for the second sin bin dismissal of the game, sitting out the remaining four minutes of play.
Retford’s equaliser came with eighty eight minutes on the clock. Scott’s ball in from the left was flicked goalwards by Johnson for his second of the game, securing what seemed like an unlikely point at one stage for the Nottinghamshire side.
While Dronfield will be frustrated with dropping two points, their pattern of play was significantly more high tempo than in recent weeks and by playing high on the last Retford defender, their fourteen shots to the visitors six told it’s own tale.
A rearranged FA Vase tie means Dronfield are without a fixture at the weekend but return to action on Tuesday 20th October when they make the relatively short journey to Worsbrough Bridge Athletic, recent 3-0 conquerors of the highly-fancied Skegness Town.
Dronfield Town: Naylor, Bebbington, Stewart, Gladwin, Hill, Pugh, Mawbey, Willis, Fereday, Wood, Ord. Subs: Wright, Fairweather, Flower, Savage, Rupere.
Retford FC: Kennedy, Loftus, Goddard, Bilham, Tomlinson, Bennett, Scott, Robinson, Casburn, Davies, Johnson. Subs: Lee, Presley, White, Abdy, Woodhead.