Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Bridllington Town 2-2 Retford United

Quite a mouth watering game here in prospect. The NCEL Premier division title was on the line. At the start of the day Bridlington Town were two points ahead of second place Retford United. Retford did however have a game in hand. So i will just go over the three outcomes and what they would mean.

  • Bridlington Town win. Bridlington Town win the championship.
  • Retford United win. Retford United win the championship.
  • A draw. Retford would have to win their game in hand Tuesday night to win the championship. Anything less than the three points for the Badgers on Tuesday would hand Bridlington the championship (Retford opponents Tuesday are midtable Thackley) 

Retford were meant to play Thackley on Thursday night but due to the terrible weather we have been having over here, the game was called off at 1.00pm due to a water logged pitch. It would have been nice if it had been played as it would have meant the championship would have been decided today but there was no way it could have been played given the pitch. We travelled to the game in two car loads today. Felice was treating his good lady to a morning's bird watching and paddling on the sea front. The Jolly boys car left a tad later at 11.30am or so. Thankfully the weather was holding out as a midweek replay trip up to Bridd didn't really appeal. Radio 5 live were live at St Marys commentating on Southampton's victory over Coventry which gave them promotion back to the Premiership. This meant that West Ham (A side Felice has a soft spot for) were condemned to the playoffs. I chose not to text him the result but instead asked him what birds he had spotted. He must have been busy because i didn't get a reply to my question asking if he had seen any Parrots, Blackbirds, or Great Tits.
We pulled into the ground at just gone 1.30pm and made our way over to the fish and chip shop just over the road from the ground. Fish and Chips came in at £4.10 and came in a cardboard box. Well everybody else's did, i somehow managed to get mine served up in a tray. Maybe its because i am "special" either way they tasted very nice and if you can't get decent fish and chips at the seaside where can you get them?  Baz rated them with a good 8/10. Quite a few Retford fans had made the trip up and they, like us, were tucking into fish and chips.
We still had  some time to kill before the match so we headed to the clubhouse which is outside the ground. The bar was doing a roaring trade and it was good to see lots of faces from Retford in. The Newcastle Brown ale went down very well, although much to Baz's relief i didn't consume anything like the quantity i did when we went to Colywn Bay (although i was tempted to have a session after the first one went down very well)
Club shop
The admission price for today's championship decider was a mere £6 with the programme coming in at £1.50. The programmes, along with other club merchandise, is available from a small hut to the left of the turnstiles as you enter the ground. It was doing a roaring trade as when we got there, there were only 15 or so programmes left. Plenty of home fans were buying scarves etc but i made do with a pin badge for three quid. The ground is a real old school type of venue. We had the normal stroll round it as we waited for Felice to arrive. The main stand to the right as you enter the stadium is by far the best stand in the ground offering a mixture of both terracing and seating with the directors seating on the halfway line. Its a pretty unique stand which is good to see.
Main Stand.
View from inside the stand.
As you walk behind the far end of the ground you get half the end covered and half uncovered. The ground is on a slight slope with this end being at the bottom of it. So from here you are looking up at the action.
As we make our merry way around the ground we come to the infamous "Bus Shelter" side. This seems to be the place that the more vocal Brid home fans stand to watch their football. The covered stand is situated on the halfway line just behind the two dugouts. The sides either side of the shelter are uncovered.
The final side of the ground is the side that we entered the ground on. There is no covering on this side just a few porter cabins, the food hut, and an entrance into the clubhouse. Again the foot hut seemed to have quite a few customers although the queue seemed quite slow moving.
I hope you enjoyed the pictorial tour of Bridlington's stadium. I don't normally take that many pictures of the grounds that we visit so seeing how i did for once take quite a few, i felt it was only right that i share them with you. Felice, Mrs Felice and Felice Junior arrived and debriefed us on there birdwatching exploits. Although  Felice's good lady didn't seem overly excited about the days exploits; saying something along the lines of if that was a first date then he wouldn't get a second one. So that's one to remember all you men out there if you are planning to take a lady out for the first time then a day out in Bridlington bird watching on a windy day followed by a NCEL match may not be the way to her heart. Not to sure if they saw any Tits on there birdwatching trip but he was good enough to bring me some tits that he bought from the sea front. I enjoyed sucking on these Sunday afternoon.
As for the match, Retford were awful for the first twenty minutes or so and barely strung 2 passes together. After all the rain we have had it was no surprise that the pitch was rather heavy. The grass had also been left quite long which meant that it was hard to pass the ball accurately over long distances. Bridlington looked more comfortable on the ball and looked good in the air. This was causing Retford plenty of problems. I have seen Retford quite a bit this season and although they are an excellent football side and create (and take) plenty of chances, they do tend to struggle at times in the air as they arent really a physical side. Brid took the lead on 15 minutes though Craig Hog when he rose unchallenged from a corner to head home. Understandably there was a large crowd in and with all that was hanging on the game it wasn't a huge surprise that the game didn't quite live up to its billing. Just when it was starting to look like Retford were going to get over run they equalised on 30 minutes when Carl Snowden fired home from the edge of the box following some nice build up play. The travelling Retford support went barmy and even prompted a one man chant of "Brett Marshall's Black and White army!" The rest of the half was pretty even as that Retford goal took the wind out of Brid's players (and supporters) sails.

We went round to the other end of the ground (towards the goal that Retford were attacking for the first half) Quite a few Badgers fans were packed behind the goal and were roaring their heroes on. Retford took the lead on 65 minutes when Karl Slack latched onto a through ball, rounded the keeper, and coolly rolled the ball into the back of the net. As it stood Retford had the championship in their grasp and the fans got ready to party. Retford had a golden chance to wrap up the game, the championship, and promotion when substitute Carl Haslam tried to lob the keeper but saw his effort float wide. Its on moments like this that games are won and lost and all too often incidents like this come back to bite you on the arse. Retford were dominating the game now as Brid struggled to close them down. Retford thought they had scored a third when they bundled the ball home from a corner but it was (rightly) chalked off for handball.
Then came the sickening blow. In the 90th minute Brid forced a corner and yep you guessed it they scored.   This was followed by 6 minutes added on time of which the homeside totally dominated, thankfully the ref blew time and called an end to proceedings.
At the end of the match Retford manager Brett Marshall lead the players over to the Retford fans, who had backed their team brilliantly all afternoon and applauded them.  Likewise the fans returned the applause to the players. Who have played some great football over the season in difficult circumstances.
Donning my Retford hat i was quite happy with the result. Although some may have been a tad disappointed not to have wrapped up the Championship today, the main thing in my view was not to lose it today. Brid have the best home form in the division so a draw here was a decent result. Although Retford still have to win Tuesday night it is still in their own hands. Had you offered anybody at the club the scenario of needing to win the last home game of the season to win the championship i am sure they would have bitten your hand off. With the title on the line it should be a good attendance at Cannon Park on Tuesday night so if you arent doing anything that night then get yourself down. Although after all the rain we have had Sunday lets hope the game is able to go ahead.
Elsewhere in the football world..
Lincoln City's disappointing 2011/12 campaign ended on a high note with a 3-2 away win at Ebbsfleet United. Gainsborough Trinity confirmed their place in the Blue Square North playoffs and will face FC Halifax Town over two legs. Good luck to them.

Next season we will welcome old friends Maccelsfield Town into the BSP following their relegation from League Two. So thats another decent away trip for next season. All we need now is for Barnet to join them although is looking more like it will be Hereford United who take the drop. Never mind though thats another new ground that i need to do. :-)

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