FC United went into the festive period on the back of a humbling 4-2 home defeat to table topping Retford United in a game which could have been much worse for the Reds.
The visitors raced into a three goal lead with just under 25 minutes on the board and despite scoring twice in reply to the visitors United never looked like staging another famous comeback at Gigg Lane.
From the off the visitors were straight at the United defence and Daryl Thomas used his pace to get the better of Nick Swirad and slot under Sam Ashton to give the Nottinghamshire outfit the lead inside three minutes.
United look a little lacklustre in midfield on the day and the only real attacking threat came in the form of Carlos Roca, who weaved his way past defenders to get a weak shot away that was never going to trouble the opposition goalkeeper.
Roca did pull out one of the goals of the season before half time but the trouble was United were already three down when he struck magnificently from edge of the box into the top corner.
Retford’s goals were again gifts, the second coming from a corner which United seemed unable to defend as Colin Marrison rose above the Reds’ defence and headed home. Moments later Thomas got his second of the game again using pace to get past Swirad before slotting home to give Retford a 3-0 cushion with 24 minutes gone.
Roca’s sublime effort was one of very few highlights in the first half and United got into the dressing room a little lucky to be only two goals down and still in the game.
The Reds returned for the second period with a bit more fight in them and had good opportunities early on to get another goal but only half chances were not good enough.
Things got worse when Retford again broke with Thomas who saw his effort well saved by Ashton before the ball came to captain Marrison who calmly brought the ball back into the box and drilled it into the bottom corner for his second of the game, restoring Retford’s three goal advantage to cries of “we are top of the league??? from the jubilant away fans.
Manager Karl Marginson went for broke after the fourth goal bringing on Ben Deegan to add some muscle against a big and physical Retford backline. Deegan soon made himself noticed as he skilfully picked out Simon Carden at the far post who rose well to put the Reds within two goals and give the United faithful something to hang onto.
Both teams got into a bit of a physical confrontation after the Carden goal with Retford’s players obviously wanting to make the clock go by and United looking to get the game moving. Every man and his dog had a say as the handbags were drawn.
The Reds put three up front as they desperately tried to rescue something from the game. Simon Garner saw his looping header hit the cross bar with the Badgers’ keeper Turner beaten. United got the ball in the back of the net for a third time in the dying moments but Rob Nugent and Deegan were adjudged to have impeded Turner’s efforts to collect Roca’s dangerous cross from the right.
Despite the late charge United were well beaten and it was the visitors who extended their lead at the top of the league, leaving United at the wrong end of what has to be said is a very close table.
The Reds now travel to Guiseley and Ashton United before their next home game to Ossett Town on New Year’s Day and will be looking to have at least a few more points on the board before 2010 gets underway.
Report by Craig Phillips.