Plus 10 Minus 5 ?
With a ten point lead in the Northern Counties East League, Sheffield FC might appear to be strolling to automatic promotion to the Unibond. The only fly in the ointment could be Retford United, the team in the runners up spot.
For Retford have three games in hand and the two teams have yet to meet each other in home and away fixtures. If Retford win all these five games (and nothing else changes) then they would get into a 5 point lead.
Furthermore, Retford are the team on a roll. Admittedly they lost their last League game 3-1 at Armthorpe Welfare. But this is claimed to have been due to perverse refereeing decisions involving the sending off of two Retford players.
Until Saturday , they were undefeated in a run of 17 League games which included 14 wins. Then yesterday evening they outclassed Sheffield FC themselves at my local ground in the semi-final of the League Cup (known as the President’s Cup) 4-0.
Don’t Panic, Don’t Panic
One of the excuses for Sheffield FC’s humiliation is that they had three key players cup-tied and others were injured or rested. See the Club's own match report.
Concentrating on the League, we play lowly Glasshoughton Welfare at home on Saturday, followed on the Tuesday evening by non-other than Retford again. So the League contest with our rivals is obviously much more important than the chance last night to get into a Cup Final.
There is, in fact, an indication that this isn't just special pleading. We keenly wish to be up into a higher League for the time of our 150th Anniversary. The Manager even complained about the inconvenience of the President's Cup games in the Club's Programme for the first round clash with Arnold Town at the start of the season. I pointed this out at the time.
There have been a series of postponements to Sheffield's home clashes with Retford. Mainly due to muddy pitches.
The League game has been postponed at least twice. Initially being programmed for November 25, then again being postponed on 16 January. Whilst yesterday's Cup clash was supposed to have been held on 27 February. It was moved to Tuesday of this week, then late-on pushed back a day.
Unfortunately, I am obliged to miss Tuesday's clash. But I am not too worried. It only needs another down pour to get it postponed once more.
Whenever the game is played, we may have learnt a valuable lesson from yesterday's match. Don't float long crosses into the Retford penalty area, as they have a tall set of tough defenders.
The Track Record
Sheffield have, however, got the better of Retford once this season. We knocked them out of the FA Cup in the Preliminary Round.
We fought out a grim goalless draw in the driving rain at home. The replay also ended up all square at 1-1, but we won 3-0 on penalties.
But this was all back in September before Retford went on that 17 game unbeaten run in the League.
Yet we can claim to be holding our own against Retford this season (if you ignore the goal difference) with a win, a draw and a defeat.
A Happy Ending
The final clash between the two sides is due to take place at Retford's ground as the penultimate match of our season. Whether I make the trip may depend on two factors. First, will we have wrapped up the League Title by then? Secondly, Sunderland are at home to QPR that day and they might need my voice to shout them on to victory to gain an automatic promotion to the Premiership.
Life is hectic when you support winning teams.