Top Dog Retford Still 100%

Although still a couple of games shy of the half-way stage in this seasons Central Midlands League Premier North title race, Nottinghamshire outfit, Ryan Hindley’s Retford United, have certainly been firing on all cylinders.

Granted they exited the CML Cup, in late September, when losing 3-2 at home to league rivals, Dearne & District, that reversal, it was avenged this weekend (20 October) when, also at home, the Cannon Park Badgers came from behind to win 3-1.

Not since the days of heady success in the Northern Counties Eastern League Premier Division, when they were champions in 2012, and fourth in 2013, has the Badgers enjoyed as good a start to a campaign, in fact, this one is better, so far, statistically.

Back then they side were playing 40+ games per season, so this does make this a little more easier to achieve, but that’s by the by, you still have to see off who’s front of you, whilst making any changes behind the scenes, as Hindley et al have been doing.

Speaking of changes, the Badgers recently lost James Jepson to Ilkeston Town, whilst they’ve already strengthened on the field of play, welcoming striker Sam Kelly, from Glapwell, and defender Max Pemberton, from Hallam, to a side which began the season with a 2-0 win at home to Bakewell Town.

Goals that afternoon came via Mason Barlow, and Mark West, the Badgers setting out their stall for what has transpired since, shot-stopper Tom Crosby keeping the first of five clean sheets this campaign.

In front of goal, the addition of Kelly adds prowess to a side that has bagged 42 (44 in all competitions) already this season.

Whilst Pemberton, he shores up a defence that has only conceded 11 (14 in all competitions) in their dozen matches played, four of which arrived in the two games with Dearne, and three in the late, 4-3 win, away to Collingham; Craig Mitchell bagged a hat-trick that day before Jonathan Froggatt, joint-top scorer with Mitchell, sitting on nine goals apiece.

Speaking of the arrival of Pemberton, Badgers boss, Ryan Hindley, said: “Max has had a great non-league career.

“Getting to the play-offs with Hallam, then winning the NCEL Premier Division with Worksop, and then the NCEL Division One last season with Hallam.

“I’m delighted to be working with him again, and he’ll be a great addition to this very good squad.”

The next test for the Badgers meanwhile, they’re stepping away from league duty for the afternoon, welcoming Nottinghamshire Senior League Premier Division side, AFC Top Valley, to Cannon Park, in the second round of the Notts FA Senior Trophy.

They’ll do that however, without Jepson in the dugout, he now replaced by player-coach, Jon Forggatt, Hindley saying of his departure that it: “Was with sadness and happiness we lose James Jepson to Ilkeston as a coach.

“JJ has been instrumental in all the great things we have achieved so far this season; but it’s an offer from a massive club.

“It’s also better for his young family that he’s closer to home.

“The good news though is, replacing JJ, is someone I have known a very long time, and someone that does the talking with his actions on the pitch.

“Jon Froggatt will step up as player/assistant manager, both of us are delighted!”

As for that twelve-match winning streak, so far, the Badgers, who finished runners-up last season to Newark Town, have put seven past Hatfield Town five past AFC Phoenix, and four past both Kiveton Miners Welfare, AFC Bentley, and Collingham.

With the cup match against Top Valley the Badgers’ next port of call, the halfway stage in the CML will have to wait a little while longer.

After the Senior Trophy (subject to change), Hindley’s side welcome Collingham (19 November), before travelling to Yorkshire Main (26 November), where the hallway point is met, followed by a home game with AFC Bentley (10 December) to begin the festive season.

By then, we’ll hopefully have caught up with Hindley, and a few of the players, to look back on the first half of the season; after all, it’s looking good, so far….

*Article provided by Peter Mann (Senior Correspondent).

*Main image @RetfordUnited Badgers delight as Retford came from behind to win at the weekend.

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