Good cheer all round at Christmas Eve football.

With very little football scheduled in England for Christmas Eve the Central Midlands League, 10 promotions from the Premier League, gave their clubs the choice of playing or not. Dinnington Town and Retford United agreed to play and were well rewarded with a crowd of 269, much, much higher than normal. There was the fact that Dinnington had won five in a row and were third, at home to Retford United, who were top and so far undefeated in the league although they only just maintained that record last time out when they equalised in the 90th minute against Haworth Colliery.

The large mainly male crowd may also have been helped by getting a pass out with the children to be out of the way. It may have been because after the torrential rain that swept across the UK the day before, Christmas Eve was a beautiful sunny day, with clear blue skies but with a chill wind. There also seemed to be a good many groundhoppers taking advantage of visiting Dinnington where the midday kick off didn’t disrupt the day too much.

I decided to go to see if Retford could maintain their record against in form opposition and because the ground had been majorly updated since I was last there. A new 3G pitch has been installed with new floodlights and tarmacadam hard standing on three sides. Gone are the covered areas but I’m sure that is a future priority not only for the fans but to achieve ground grading criteria. What has been achieved is outstanding and gives the club a firm financial base to progress.

They have also updated the facilities by the fact that you now enter the playing area via the resource centre which provides food an drink before, during and after the game. This was not available before and is a great idea to bring together two community assets. There is also unusually a Post Office in the building. The bowls club is also next door.

The new pitch does appear to slope slightly from end to end and is covered with multi coloured lines marking out various smaller pitches for juniors.

Dinnington Town 1 Retford United 3

December 24th 2022, kick off 12.00 (Midday). Central Midlands League North Division

Dinnington Yellow shirts with black edging and fading with black shorts. Retford United Grey shirts with darker grey vertical stripes and grey shorts.

Dinno v The Badgers

The game was very competitive as expected but it was Retford who created the best chances. They had a disallowed goal on 20 minutes and hit the cross bar 7 minutes later when the rebounding ball was just scrambled away only to be hit back in but only into the side netting. Dinnington had their own period of pressure and were denied by a point blank save by the goal keeper on 32 minutes.

Retford though went ahead on 41 minutes when a cross in from the left was met by the number nine Joe Froggat who tapped in. This seemed to coincide with the sun disappearing behind some cloud which certainly increased the chill factor. It was soon colder for the home side when in the last minute of the half a Retford player was fouled in the penalty area and Mark West took charge and dispatched the ball into the net for Retford to lead 2 Nil at half time.

As the teams walked off the pitch the Dinnington Manager walked over to argue with the ref and was shown a yellow card, unfortunately this added to one he had collected earlier for the same offence and he was red carded and sent off.

Dinnington came out in the second half with renewed vigour and deservedly pegged a goal back after ten minutes of the restart when Brad Sedgwick collected the ball near the penalty spot and struck it straight into the top right hand corner of the goal. They continued their pressure and for a while Retford looked a little rattled.

With 21 minutes left Retford’s impressive Mark West was put through on goal and running on to the ball he clipped it across the home keeper, Best, into the top right hand corner. This goal steadied Retford and they kept control of the game until full time.

Retford went home with their unbeaten league run intact but Dinnington played well and showcased their great new facilities that will surely improve the game of football for the community in the future.

The officials should also be commended keeping very tight control of the game and the referee was quick to explain any of his decisions on the pitch. All in all a happy start to Christmas.

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