Dronfield Town toughed out a deserved 3-2 win away at Retford FC in adverse circumstances. Howling gales, driving rain, a late team change and playing the last thirty minutes with ten men proved to be no barrier to the Derbyshire outfit, who took the game to their higher ranked opponents and were duly rewarded with three very important points. The victory tees up an exciting fixture next weekend when FC Humber United are the visitors to the HE Barnes Stadium.
Town were forced to draft Ethan Flower into the starting eleven just prior to kick off and despite adverse weather conditions, another fast paced start followed. Sam Bebbington saw his shot go just wide in the sixth minute as Dronfield came out in determined mood.
That determination paid dividends in the eleventh minute as the visitors took the lead. Connor Chapell’s corner over on the far side was swung into the area and met by the head of Tom Gladwin, whose regulation header nestled nicely in the back of the net to make it 0-1.
Retford showed why they are eighth in the league on sixteen minutes when Alex Wonham’s shot from the right hand side was well saved by Lewis Naylor and then his follow up was cleared off the line by recent signing Will Hunter.
Hunter again came to the rescue on thirty five minutes when Haydn Goddard beat the Dronfield offside trap, lifted the ball past Naylor only for Hunter to clear off the line once again.
Dronfield’s high pressing game paid dividends however two minutes before half time. Billy Wright dispossessed Alex Wonham in the Town back line and continued his journey upfield. Wright exchanged passes with Mark Fereday before poking an outstretched boot out to send the ball past Retford keeper Jon Kennedy and Dronfield into a 2-0 lead.
Retford introduced Zach Casburn and Liam Bennett just five minutes after the interval but it was Dronfield who were to deliver yet another hammer blow.
On fifty eight minutes, Ethan Flower’s dangerous in-swinging free kick skidded off the saturated turf and over several Retford defenders only for Sam Bebbington to get the final touch as the ball went into the net to put Dronfield three up.
An incident-laden second half became even more so on the hour mark. Sam Bebbington was involved in a tussle with Retford’s Graeme Severn, which saw both players on the deck. After lengthy debate, the officials decided to award Severn with a yellow card and unfortunately for Dronfield, a red for Bebbington.
Town held firm for a further eleven minutes before Retford pulled a goal back. Zach Casburn was adjudged to have been brought down and stepped up to claim the penalty. Lewis Naylor pulled off a fine save from Casburn’s spot kick to his left hand side but Jack Johnson was on hand to claim the rebound and make it 1-3.
Billy Wright’s cross field ball found Mark Fereday on eighty five minutes and his shot just skidded wide from the eighteen yard mark as Dronfield found that the best form of defence was attack.
A minute from the end of normal time, Dronfield hearts were in mouths once more. Matty Parkin cut in from the left flank past a couple of Town defenders and drilled home past Lewis Naylor to make it 2-3.
Dronfield held firm for six minutes of added time but hold on they did and were elated at full time with a fully deserved victory.
The win doesn’t change Dronfield’s position in the Northern Counties East League Division One table but draws them two points closer to fourteenth-placed Hall Road Rangers ahead of another big game at the HE Barnes Stadium next Saturday. Twentieth-placed FC Humber United are the visitors with Town looking to gain revenge for an uncharacteristic opening day defeat back in late July.
Retford FC: Kennedy, Loftus, Goddard, Severn, Robinson, Parkin, Scott, Walters, White, Wonham, Johnson. Subs: Housley, Edwards, Bennett, Casburn, White.
Dronfield Town: Naylor, Hunter, Stewart, Lester, Gladwin, Wright, Chapell, Mawbey, Flower, Fereday, Bebbington. Subs: Rooke, Knight, Siddons.