Fresh off the back of our crucial home win and clean sheet, the Blues were looking to bring this form into this matchup and cause an upset at the home of the league leaders. The whistle blew for the match to start, and Trinity started the better side. Southwell’s persistent pressing led to a corner within the first minute of the game. Hornshaw’s cross was blocked well and was unlucky not to find Declan Howe in the box who would have been looking for his 7th goal in 6 games.

The Holy Blues were again the more dominant side going forward, more crosses were aimed into the box but none of them could find the right men, as the Radcliffe defenders, Lois Maynard and Jude Oyibo, were first to meet the fired attempts. Southwell started the game well down the left-hand side, he gave the Radcliffe right-sided centre back, Oliver Thornley, no rest. The former Lincoln City and Alfreton centre forward seeing his shot saved at the front post in the 8th minute as he cut inside and looked for glory. Shortly after, his cross found Declan Howe in the area, but the attempt, with Howe on the stretch, wasn’t to be as it went just wide of the post.

Radcliffe began to show why they are top off the league as the 20 minute mark passed. They began to get forward, putting the Trinity defence under a lot of pressure and picked up a lot more possession. Their hard work of pressing certainly paid off as in the 29th minute of the game, Oyibo’s low driven cross met the feet of Anthony Dudley who forced his shot past Luke Jackson, to put the home side ahead.

Bobby Johnson forced a routine save from Mateusz Hewelt when he tried his luck from 25 yards or so, Trinity going in at the break trailing by a goal to nil, their shape out of possession making it tough for the table toppers to break down.

Half Time: Radcliffe 1 Gainsborough Trinity 0

As the referee signified the start of the second half, both sides knew they had work to do. The home side knew that they needed to hold onto the lead as Gainsborough are known to fight hard all through the game. Then the away side knew they had to push hard to equalise and bring the game back to life. The start to the second half was definitely in favour of the away side, the Blues pressed hard and got the ball forward well, creating multiple chances and forcing the Radcliffe defence to work extra hard.

The first memorable chance of the second half was a close-range effort from Bobby Johnson as George Hornshaw delivered the ball into his feet for it to whistle inches past the post leaving Radcliffe anxious. Trinity had multiple chances as time passed in the second half, crosses cleared away, shots blocked inside the box and even an audacious 35-yard attempt, from Southwell after a goalkeeper mistake, ended up in the side netting.

Howe felled, was harshly adjudged to have handled, as he squared the ball across the face of goal, denying Trinity of a deserved leveller. Radcliffe also looked late on to build on their lead, but Luke Jackson’s goalkeeping heroics denied the high-flying home side any chances of doubling their lead, definitely a memorable week for the Sheffield Wednesday loanee as his Gainsborough stay has been extended into late January.

As the whistle went for full time, the Holy Blues would have felt so unfortunate not to get at least a point out of the game. They battled so hard for 90 minutes against such a top side and proved that changes are happening in the squad. A narrow loss at a top of the table team is a decent result. A 5-game unbeaten run ended but the lads shouldn’t be disheartened by this, they should use this as motivation and look to beat that unbeaten run for the remainder of the season.

Next up, Trinity host Bradford Park Avenue at the Kal Group Stadium. Putting the loss behind them, they will definitely be looking forward to next week and putting a statement out there to the rest of the league. A loss will definitely look to be recycled into a win to get the Holy Blues back on track.

The Teams

Radcliffe FC: Mateusz Hewelt, Josh Hancock, Jude Oyibo, Lois Maynard, Oliver Thornley, Rick Smith, Anthony Dudley (Jake Thompson’), Nicky Adams, Jordan Hulme, Luke Joyce, Jamie Morgan (Luca Navarro). Subs not used: Evans, Tse, Obasoto.

Gainsborough Trinity: Luke Jackson, George Hornshaw, Ashley Jackson, Bailey Conway, Hamish Douglas, Dylan Cogill, Lewis Butroid (Tom Parkinson 88) Bobby Johnson (Jack Moore-Billam), Dayle Southwell (Joel Holvey) Declan Howe, Javelle Clarke. Subs not used: Nathaniel Wallace and Ethan Cowan (g/k).

Radcliffe Goal: Anthony Dudley (29)
Referee: Daniel Smith
Attendance: 1,049

Report by Cian Stringer
Photos by Barkley Costello (Radcliffe Official Photographer)