THE On-Call Arena was the location on Tuesday night as Gedling Miners Welfare made the short journey south to Nottingham neighbours Radford hoping to build on their impressive 2-0 win at the weekend against Barrow Town.
Their hosts, rooted mid-table in the EMCL at the start of play, came into the game having beat Gedling at Plains Road in October but on the back of a weekend defeat, a 4-3 away visit to Selston, having won 3 in succession previous and had lost only once at home all season.
Always a highly anticipated affair the game opened up in a rough-and-ready fashion as both teams shared late tackles in an attempt to stamp their authority early on. Gedling started the brighter as they looked to punish a lackadaisical Radford. Ryan Plummer audaciously tried his luck from just ahead of the half-way line but his assessed effort was misdirected with 5 played. 5 minutes later and a slip from Simon Hore, one of the several former-Miners players representing Radford on the night, gifted the opportunity for Plummer to make amends, but, after a good square ball from Errol Campbell, he could only fire his effort straight at Hadlee Dunne in the home goal.
This sparked Radford and they appeared to come more into the game than their start proved. Expectedly, the game maintained the combative and feisty edge, none more evident when Connor Croft was withdrawn from proceedings after he suffered a nasty looking gash above his left eye – the midfielder requiring stitches after the game. The hosts registered their best effort on goal just before the 25th minute when, after a good cross from the right found its way to the unmarked Conor Moore, he spurned his effort wide when it was arguably easier to score.
Whilst both teams sought attacking intentions throughout, the game seriously lacked any real attacking prowess directly in front of goal and, as the half wore on, the opportunities created column on the statistics sheet remained fairly untroubled. Though, the home side remained the better of the two sides. Shortly before half time and their dominance paid off when Jack Smith was tripped by namesake Luke in the Gedling defence and referee Dave Constable, after a minor deliberation with his assistant, awarded a penalty. Hore, atoning for his earlier mistake, slotted the ball straight down the middle putting his side ahead at the break.
Deservedly leading going into the second half, Radford had the chance to double their lead 4 minutes after the restart but Jack Smith could only pass his effort wide of the goal as their attacking trio continued to impress. However, only 2 minutes later and they did double their lead. After fine wing play by Courtney Bartley, his deep cross over everyone found the once again unmarked Moore who fired his sides second into the far bottom corner much to the delight of his colleagues.
At this stage, Radford had all but confirmed the 3 points that would close their gap on Birstall. They were comfortable dealing with all Gedling threw at them and were impressive in possession. Shortly after the hour, the visitors registered one of their limited chances on goal when Jimmy Spiers attempted a lob over the committed Dunne, but his effort was tame as the thankful ‘keeper collected with ease. Gedling, in their defence, continued to play their football and at times often found themselves in behind the home back line, who were fantastic on the night.
Their best opportunity came on the 73rd minute when Ryan Plummer, after good hold up play, slipped in Dwayne Brown who, with the outside of his boot, superbly curled an effort on goal destined for the far corner but for an equally praiseworthy fingertip save by Dunne ensuring his clean sheet stayed intact.
Despite the chance, Gedling posed very little but continued to press and 14 minutes from time the game was sealed. From a corner swung in from the left, the ever-dangerous Ryan Smith rose highest to plant his header into the net for his customary goal – the striker’s 32nd goal of an exquisite individual campaign.
Radford remained comfortable as the game ticked towards its close and, in truth, looked untroubled throughout. Gedling did register a last ditch effort to restore some credibility to the score line, but a late header from Liam Corrigan on the cusp of full time was flicked well over.
A poor display on the night from Gedling ensured the 3 points and city bragging rights went to Radford, although not without effort, as they continue in their quest to qualify for next seasons FA Cup qualifying campaign.
The Miners turn host this Saturday (14th April) when they welcome Selston to Plains Road, kick off 3pm. They then travel to Eagle Valley on the following Monday (16th) where they face Arnold Town in the re-arranged bank holiday Monday fixture, 7.45 kick off in what is always an eagerly anticipated and tightly contested affair.