Last season, in whatever guise it became, would see Liam Kay’s Badgers put together a successful run to the final of, and victory in, the Central Midlands League’s Chairman’s Cup competition, defeating Mickleover Reserves 3-1 at the home of Sheffield FC.
Fast forward a couple of months, and the staggered momentum the Cannon Park side had put together over the previous two, broken campaigns, has seen them start this one, with gusto and aplomb, riding high in the Central Midlands Premier North at the halfway stage.
Notching a rather impressive, 67 goals, in their twenty games to date, it harks back to a previous query put to the Badgers’ boss during that cup run, and the fact that CML high-fliers aren’t reliant on just the one, natural goal-scorer – they’ve a few of those.
Dancing with early pace-setters, Club Thorne Colliery, and third placed Newark Town, Retford United are sandwiched between the two, they’ve seen a good dozen players register, with Mark West (24 in 19) top-scoring.
Westy is joined in the scoring charts by teammates Aaron Fell (11 in 15), Dean Conway (9 in 12) and Liam Frost (6 in 9), whilst there’s also an abundance of talent in which Kay can call upon, talent such as Mason Barlow, Adam Daughtrey, Brandon Kane, and Igor Mlynarski, to name a few.
With no draws, and fifteen wins to date, one of those successes resonates highly with the Badgers boos, Liam Kay telling the Nottingham Sport that: “We’ve had a couple of bad days this season, but the win over Harworth Colliery (3-1 away, 26 October, goals from Mark West, Liam Frost, and Aaron Fell), was probably the best we’ve played during my time at the club.
“The losses though, they’re hard to take, but we got we deserves, and they wanted the points more than we did.
“At present though, the league is wide open and Thorne (unbeaten in eighteen) have had a great start, not losing games.
“But we’re in there ourselves, and beating Newark (1-0 at home, mid-November, Mason Barlow with the only goal), that was a really big thing for us.
“There’s still a lot to do though, a lot of football still to play, and you have to go through the bad patches to succeed.
“That, and we still have to play Thorne and get the win there.”
In hitting the second half of the CML season, and sandwiched nicely in second place, three behind the leaders albeit having played a game more, Kay’s Badgers are still battling on four fronts – League, Floodlit Cup (host Arnold Town, 8 December), and League Cup (host Newark Town, 22 January), and a Notts FA Senior Trophy (tbc).
Moving forward, Kay, and his backroom team, are aware of the need for progression, promotion, at Cannon Park – this season should, with a little luck, go a long way to helping them achieve that goal.
With the players they have at their disposal, they can only be their own, worst enemies, surely, but anything can happen on the day.
“The expectations are on us to keep this going,” continued Liam.
“We want to progress from the league and, after the Glapwell game (a 3-1 loss in mid-October), there was a few home truths laid out.
“The players, they have to forget what’s going on around them, and focus on what we’re doing instead.
“Of those, Frost is a good, young player who’s learnt a lot, Westy is exactly who he is and will always get you goals, and with Conway, there’s always a chance, even half a chance.
“We’re lucky though, that we can score from anywhere, and we believe that we can score goals, so, with the competitions we’re challenging for, we’ll go into each game like we always do, to win.”
Of those four competitions on offer to the Badgers, there’s still that one, burning ambition, in which they’ll be hoping to finally accomplish this season (Club Thorne, Newark et al withstanding).
It is something that hasn’t changed as they look to progress.
“The aim, the goal, it’s to win the league, that’s not changed,” concluded Liam.
“That’s the remit, and then we can look at climbing the pyramid again; I believe we have the players here, now, in order to do that.”
The festive season will see Liam Kay, and his Retford United charges, take on the following, scheduled fixtures – AFC Bentley (home, 4 December), Arnold Town (home, 8 December), Notts FA Senior Trophy Round Two (Kimberley MW Reserves/South Notts, home, 11 December), Dearne & District (home, 18 December), and SJR Worksop (home, 27 December).
*Article provided by Peter Mann (Senior Correspondent).
*Main image @RetfordUnited Badgers Manager Liam Kay assesses his sides season so far.