An excellent free kick from Joe Meakin midway through the first half wasn’t enough for Gedling Miners Welfare at Plains Road on Saturday afternoon as they shared the spoils with city neighbours Radford in the East Midlands Counties League.
The game began slowly and both sides struggled to make it stick higher up the field as both sets of defenders edged a cagey opening few minutes.
An always-feisty affair between the near-neighbours, nothing typified the usual nature of the local derby than Luke Smith’s crunching tackle on Eugene Francis with only 7 minutes played which saw the midfielder walking the referee’s tightrope for the remainder of the game.
The first chance of the match went to the visitors with 10 played, however Ryan Smith could only hook his chance over the crossbar following some promising wide play by ex-Miner Francis.
At the other end and Joe Meakin’s rasping effort from all of 40 yards, despite not lacking in power or straightness, was watched all the way by Radford’s custodian Hadlee Dunn who appreciated the effort by his former teammate.
The Pheasants travelled to Plains Road in poor form, having failed to win in their last five and had slipped down the table following their season inconsistencies.
With 21 minutes gone, Conor Moore, shrugging off an earlier head injury, did well to avoid the challenge of Smith but his effort curled agonisingly wide the far post with Danny Brown beaten.
The home side came into this one in following an encouraging draw against Barrow Town last time out in a game they should have taken all 3 points. They made a promising start against Radford after soaking up some early pressure and with 22 minutes gone, they deservedly went ahead in superb fashion.
After Kevin Spriggs felled Ross McCaughey just outside the penalty area, Meakin stepped up and curled an unstoppable effort into the top far corner past Dunn who could only stand and admire the strike – a quite scintillating free kick from the midfielder who traded Selhurst Street for Plains Road back in 2017.
They could have had a second in as many minutes when Jack Jepson found himself in behind Matt Hopewell, but he couldn’t capitalise on the opportunity and his shot was dragged wide.
The visitors did not look their usual selves going forward and the unusually quiet Ryan Smith, with 25 goals to his name already this season, was kept at bay by the superb defensive cohesion of Liam Corrigan, Felix Hogg and Charlie Roberts.
In turn, the home side looked comfortable and were deservedly nearing the half time interval in the lead.
They may have added a second 5 minutes before the break but following good work between McCaughey and Jimmy Spiers. However, as Jepson found himself one-on-one with Dunn, an uncharacteristic lack of composure from the talisman saw his effort scurry wide.
Despite the comfortable position and contrary to how Gedling have opened the second period of many games this season, the second half was only 3 minutes old when Radford claimed their equaliser.
Ignoring protests from those in yellow that Moore touched the ball last under pressure from Roberts, referee Ashley Allen, having a difficult afternoon, awarded a corner in favour of the visitors.
From the in swinging set piece, the ball found its way all the way through and the unmarked Ryan Smith was on hand to bundle the ball home as Allen waved away all complaints from the home side who were incensed at the decision.
The goal sparked Radford and they had a good opportunity to go in front but Moore’s left-footed strike from an angle was well anticipated by Brown who comfortably held through a number of players.
8 minutes later, however and it may have been Gedling who re-took the lead, but after shrugging off several Tom Black attempts to foil his run, Meakin’s superb cross, penetrating the lines of the away defence, was just inches from finding the toe of Jepson before the ball ran harmlessly for a goal kick.
The game drastically mellowed and both sides appeared to be content with a point apiece as the minutes ticked toward the close. Jack Smith went close for his side with 77 minutes played, but the substitute couldn’t quite angle enough curl as Brown ushered the effort wide.
5 minutes later and Spiers tested the hands of an otherwise undisturbed Dunn, but the strike was never going to beat the seasoned stalwart who caught with ease.
Both sides huffed and puffed but failed to test respective goals as both defensive rearguards shone throughout.
Gedling’s defensive trio were superb all afternoon in dealing with the extremely lively attacking threat Radford offered, whilst the experienced Wes Spencer and Simon Hore, both former Gedling players, looked at ease all afternoon as Allen ended the game with the teams sharing the spoils.
A good point for Gedling who rise to 16th in the latest standings and halt a run of seven consecutive defeats to The Pheasants in all competitions having last beaten them in the League Cup back in 2014.
They make the trip to second-placed Newark Flowserve next Saturday (30th March) hoping to detriment their title charge as they seek a second successful promotion, kick off 3pm.
“It was a tough physical game against local rivals today and there was not much in it. We edged the first half with a couple of good chances and edged the second.” Manager Chris Marks said after the game.
“The work rate, effort and desire from the boys today was very good. We’ve now played 2 teams in the top 6 in the last 2 weeks and haven’t been beaten – hopefully we can continue that trend and finish the season strongly.” he added.
Match Attendance – 106
Referee – Ashley Allen
Assistant Referees – Paul Dixon & Abraham Kingsley