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Saturday, 28 January 2012

Radford 0-3 Blaby &Whestone Athletic

Its been a couple of seasons since i saw Radford play. I have been past the ground plenty of times on my way to Panthers games but unfortunately they always seem to be away when the Panthers are at home. Another reason for my not watching them for a while was the fact that Nottingham has loads of non league teams and i wanted to tick off a few new grounds. With quite a few new Notts grounds ticked this season i decided to pay the Pheasants a long over due visit.
Radford play in the EMCL (Step 6) and comprises of teams from Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Leicestershire. Alas the Nottinghamshire representatives are hardly covering themselves in glory this time around as before kickoff the four of them all sat in the bottom 5 places in the division. Radford have struggled for a number of seasons now and went into this round of fixtures in 17th place (Out of 19 sides) with a grand total of 15 points. Below them sit Greenwood Meadows and Gedling Miners Welfare, both on 14 points but both have two games in hand on Radford. I have seen both of them this season and i was intrigued to see how Radford matched up to them. Completing the Nottinghamshire strugglers are Radcliffe Olympic in 15th place and on 18 points.

Blaby and Whestone are in their first season in the EMCL and are currently just below halfway in the division. When the sides met first time around Blaby won 2-1 with a late penalty in added on time at the end of the match. The programme for today's match Radford seem to think it was a harsh decision. Well they would wouldn't they?

Notts County were at home to the MK Dons so the trains were pretty quiet. After the fun and games of trying to fathom the ins and outs of the Nottingham bus systems it made a nice change to do a match using the tram system. I had plenty of time to kill before the match so i decided to have a look around the area and try to find a pub or a chippy. Radford is one of the most multi cultural areas of Nottingham and has plenty of curry houses and kebab shops and the like. The best thing was that even though it was 1.30 in the afternoon most of them were open and doing a roaring trade. Normally i would be into one of them like a shot but i had wolfed down a large mixed kebab from Valentinos in Retford the previous night (and very nice it was to i may add). Although eating establishments and hairdressers were plentiful, pubs were proving much more elusive, I did find a kind of cafe type thing with pool tables and pictures of various middle eastern football teams on the walls serving soft drinks but that wasn't really my thing. I headed back to the ground in search of a pub but all i found was this closed down pub. Bugger.
By now it was about 2.00pm so I thought sod it a and headed into the ground. Because i was stupidly early the gateman thought i was an official. I told him i wasn't and paid my £5 entrance and headed straight to the bar. It looks like i was the first person to order a pint as it was quite frothy. In the end i ended up getting a pint and half a half pint glass. As the barman said, there aren't many clubs that would give you a pint and a bit more for your money. The bar wasn't overly busy; a few Radford officials and a group of away players playing darts badly and that was pretty much it. I saw somebody come in with a programme so i went in search of one a got one off the guy on the gate for £1.
The last time i was here Radford had one of the best programmes that i saw that season. Since then i assume that the editor has changed as this issue wasn't quite up to the same high standard. This seasons issue was on a par with others in the division so it did the job, I was just a tad disappointed that it didn't live up to its previous seasons quality level. But as i always say, any programme is better than no programme.

I finished my pint and headed off outside, Radford had a decent little clubshop the last time i was here but it was all boarded up this time around. It looked like a low crowd was going to be in attendance today. As you walk around the ground you can't help but notice that the ground looks a little run down. Plenty of building materials and tools are just lying around. The impression that i got was that the ground looked a little unloved and overgrown. There is more than enough covering. There is a small seated stand to behind the goal at the clubhouse end and a covered standing area down one side where i watched most of the first half from.
Blaby and Whestone were attacking the goal at the clubhouse end and despite the heavy pitch tried to play the ball on the floor. They had a couple of very quick nimble forwards who looked like they could cause the Radford back four problems. They had already created a couple of decent chances before they took the lead and when they did it was a total fluke. The winger on the Blaby right hit a powerful cross from a tight angle that flew straight into the top corner. If he meant it then it was goal of the season but his reaction when it went in suggested that he didn't mean it. Either way the visitors had the lead. It was tough on Radford but when you are near the bottom of the table this is the kind of thing that happens to you.
The Pheasants nearly hit straight back when their number 9 beat a couple of defenders only to mis-hit his shot when he was clean through. Radford didn't create much today but if anybody was going to get them back into it it was the number 9 who looked a cut above anybody else on the Radford team. The visitors went two up with a decent header that looped over the keeper as he was caught out of position. The Radford manager was clearly unhappy with the effort being shown from his side and was very animated on the sidelines. The third goal was the killer goal and was courtesy of a great finish from 25 yards, although the Radford defence helped out by backing off and giving the attacker plenty of time to pick his spot and putting very little pressure on the ball. The Blaby and Whestone took a three goal lead in at the break and even they must have been surprised with the way they had been gifted the goals.

I headed to the warmth of the clubhouse for the halftime break as normal i didn't come anywhere near winning the raffle. Radio Nottingham had commentary of Forest's latest defeat this time at West Ham United courtesy of a penalty that the commentary team described as a "shocker". After taking an early lead at Gateshead, Lincoln had reverted to type and were trailing 2-1 at the break.

The second half was dull in comparison to the first. Radford did show a bit more fight than in the first half but in truth they never really looked like pulling the three goal deficit back. The only real incident of note was a red card for the Blady and Whestone forward for a sliding tackle. I had a pretty decent view of it and for me it was a yellow but i am not the ref. It was one of those challenges that some refs would have given a red for and others wouldn't have even booked the guys for. Even though they were a man down the visitors saw out the game without to much difficulty.
I had checked the Lincoln score with about 15 minutes or so to go and saw that we were 3-1 down. Game over i thought. It wasn't till i was scrolling through the scores on the tram on the way back that i realised that we had staged a late fight back and drawn 3-3. Its a funny old game.
This defeat coupled with results else where left Radford and the foot of the table. Its always a good day out at Radford FC but i left the ground feeling that the club is in need of a little bit of TLC and has lost its way a little. Maybe scraping away at the bottom of the table has taken its toll on the club and the fans. I hope they stick with it and their fortunes improve soon.

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