Making four changes from the Bank Holiday Monday victory over Liversedge, Neal Bishop shuffled his pack. Isaac Rice was preferred at left back, as Hayden Cann resumed his partnershop with Dylan Cogill at centre back. George Hornshaw started on the right of the back four, with Prosper Keto amongst the substitutes. It was a straight swap in the middle of the park as Bailey Conway started in place of Andrew Wright, with the final change seeing Fraser Preston replace Luther Munakandafa.
Radcliffe flew straight out of the traps and were causing the Holy Blues one or two problems in the opening exchanges, home captain Nicky Adams skewing an effort wide when he was teed up by Matthew Grivosti. Jake Thompson was the denied by a brave Curtis Durose block, throwing his body on the line as the Radcliffe forward cut in from the Trinity right.
All be it for a goal line clearance, Fraser Preston almost put the visitors in front, Cogill’s raking ball from left to right found Preston on the move, the wingers’ first time finish finding it’s way past Jack McIntyre, but not past the retreating defender on the line. Jack Evans making the telling clearance to keep the scores level.
A long McIntyre punt was helped on by Ewan Bange, Grivosti coming in off the right, looked to fire past Yates, but Cann got the block to divert the ball behind for a corner. Trinity cleared the initial corner kick, but with the returned ball into the box, were again grateful to Durose. In the right place to block another Thompson effort, before Grivosti got to the byline and pulled back for Luca Navarro from a tight angle. Matt Yates making a superb reflex save with his trailing arm to prevent the hosts taking the lead!
Rick Smith then hit the target from Nicky Adams’ pinpoint corner. The centre back heading straight at Yates from six yards. And when Smith again found himself free in the box, his header came off the back of the fortunate Hornshaw, and although the Holy Blues survived the scare of conceding another set piece, they were behind less than twenty seconds later, when Bange tapped in from a couple of yards, from Navarro’s centre.
Shortly after falling a goal behind, Trinity were forced to make a change, as West was brought on for the injured Cogill. Prompting a reshuffle, the Holy Blues adjusted to the change in personnel seamlessly. Just past the midway point of the first half, a long raking ball from skipper Isaac Rice found top scorer Clayton Donaldson. Full of confidence following his goal on Bank Holiday Monday, he took the ball in his stride and finished across McIntyre to have the Holy Blues back on terms – going ahead of Regan Linney in the NPL Golden Boot Race, with his 21st league goal of the campaign. A well taken goal from the veteran front man. Perhaps against the run of play, but Bish’s boys had stayed in the game, and Donaldson, given the chance – levelled the scores – to the delight of the travelling Trinity faithful.
Navarro then had a sight of goal, but pulled his effort wide of Yates’ right hand up right, after in cricketing parlance, Isaac Rice was beaten all ends up by the pitch. It was a googly the late Shane Warne would have been proud of, as the Trinity captain had everything behind it, only for it to bounce kindly for the dimmunitive Radcliffe number ten.
As half time approached, Smith again had his head in his hands, when Adams’ latest away swinging corner found the head of the centre back – only for the defender to power his header wide of the target.
Half time: Radcliffe FC 1 Gainsborough Trinity 1
The second half saw the Holy Blues playing ‘upt slope’ but again it was a bright start to the half by the hosts, as Yates was called into action early on. Michael Brewster caused panic with his ball down the right hand side, and with Navarro busy around the dropping ball, Bange did well to get the ball out from under his feet – but he found Yates in fine form, to get down low to his left, turning the ball behind for a corner, before Durose again provided defensive heroics, with a formidable forcefield as Thompson looked to fire goalwards.
Durose looked to power Trinity forward, a neat give and go with Waldock in the middle of the park, before spraying the ball out to West, invited the substitute left back to join in with the attack. And he produced the ball of the game, finding the head of Clayton Donaldson, four yards out – he would have thought… all he needed was a contact – in fact, he made good contact, but McIntyre flung up a hand and blocked the Don’s goalbound header. Sellars-Fleming flying in to try and turn the loose ball over the line was also denied, thanks to the combination of the goal line heroics of Connor O’Brien and the rapid recovery of the home custodian!
Trinity had another great opportunity to take the lead, when sub Prosper Keto won the ball back from Radcliffe’s Thompson, before Waldock unlocked the home defence with an incisive through ball to Preston. Unselfishly, Preston squared for the unmarked Donaldson, but the slightest of touches from the sliding centre back Smith, sent the ball slightly behind Gainsborough’s number nine. And he had to recheck his stride before rounding McIntyre – only to find Adams back on the line to last gasp, clear at the death. Three times Trinity denied by goal line clearances in ninety minutes! Truly unreal.
At the other end Joe Piggott rose highest to meet an Adams’ centre. But his header flew wide of the target. Before another attempt saw the Radcliffe sub swivel and hit form Joyce’s knockdown. Unfortunately for the home side, his effort was straight at Yates – and with that – Neal Bishop’s men had survived seven additional minutes of playing time, to grab the point needed to secure our extension to the season.
Battle wearied, but every player in grey (and orange) doing their part… and ensuring the season runs beyond next Saturday, when FC United of Manchester visit for the final game of the regulation season!
Jack McIntyre, Micheael Brewster, Connor O'Brien, Luke Joyce, Rick Smith, Jack Evans, Matty Grivosti, Nicky Adams, Ewan Bange (Joe Piggott 73) Luca Navarro (Mikael Ndjoli 60) Jake Thompson (Nathan Salisbury 85)
Subs not used: George Mercer & Ste Carter
Matt Yates, George Hornshaw (Prosper Keto 53) Isaac Rice (Harry Lewis 67) Bailey Conway, Hayden Cann, Dylan Cogill (Joseph West 22) Tyrell Sellars-Fleming, Curtis Durose, Clayton Donaldson, Liam Waldock, Fraser Preston
Subs not used: Luther Munakandafa & Andrew Wright
Gainsborough goal: Clayton Donaldson 25
Gainsborough booking: Bailey Conway
Referee: Mr Alan Bennett
Report by Rob Hughes (AATM_Media)
Photography by Alun Roberts (@AlunInHope)