Ammers and Retford FC co-star in dramatic draw

Ammers spoiled the show by withstanding sixty minutes with ten men, later reduced to nine, to hold onto a point against Retford FC, the fixture at the SL2 Rail Stadium ending 1-1.

The script appeared already written in the NCEL Division One when Ammers were reduced to ten-men, Craig Maynard departing, having already seen Marcel Chigumira’s penalty-led lead cancelled out and forewarned by the tale at Selby several weeks ago having then too lost personnel. The plot thickened in added-time when reduced to nine amid Rio Korbel’s exit via a second yellow.

Ammers made three changes to their cast, player-manager Jake Boyd returning alongside his u19 side’s defender Monroe Sternberg and Ousmane Sidibe the final switch.

Retford’s Matt Robinson was the lead in the first act on 4 minutes, collecting the loose ball inside the box following a long throw, shooting from the right, around the crowd, Viles’ body blocking the angle at his near post.

Chigumira, deeper, received the ball from stage left, from Birama Diallo in-behind, Ammers’ sole striker facing his audience and able to run at goal. The play is to shoot as soon as he rounds his defender – saved.

The first twist went the way of Ammers early in the story. Chigumira’s physical presence thrives in the spotlight of possession and he made sure Amers’ possession was capitalised upon inside 10 minutes, orchestrating the lead through a bit of de-ja-vu, again getting the better of the centre-half who brough him down inside the box as the only way to stop him. Ethan Cowan couldn’t block the penalty either, committing to his left, Chigumira placing slightly to the ‘keeper’s right.

Ethan Cowan got blinded by the lights as he came and didn’t get the ball, made worse by the fact the ball was hit into an area wide of his 18-yard box – beaten to it by Ralph Bertrand. The Ammers winger raised the ball over the ‘keeper and into the box but there’s no supporting Ammers man having kept up with him.

The script resumed  status quo on 24 minutes. Jack Johnson’s volley at the far post, across goal, too powerful from inside the 6-yard box, passed Jack Viles before he could react in goal.

Maynard’s red-card six minutes later needed some explaining to the referee, conferring with both linesman about the off-the-ball incident which downed Liam Frost, before deciding to reach for the top pocket

Chigumira and Diallo rotated centre-stage in quick succession with a one-two wide-left, Chigumira then enjoying the space in front of the Retford back four, waiting for an opening as he travelled across the edge of the box and lacing past the far post.

Diallo followed script just minutes later with an identical play.

The second-half at Selby was appearing more and more like the dress rehearsal for the story of this afternoon’s fixture since being reduced to ten, conceding possession, this time allowing Retford full-back Haydn Goddard freedom to make it to the edge of the box but Viles is positioned well to catch the shot from distance.

Viles continued to be a leading man in Ammers’ survival story when he parried Frost’s effort from inside the 6-yard box, reaching a cross from the left and diverting into the ‘keeper’s block.

He wasn’t to be beaten for a second time by Johnson before the interval either, a cross aimed to the back post, the header attacking the near angle.

Maintaining compact, Ammers were opened up for the first time since the restart when ten minutes in. Being shifted side-to-side, Retford eventually attacked the space infield, Robinson found just left of centre but pressured into slicing the shot with the outside of his left boot.

Goddard almost the villain whilst the bar was the hero for Ammers, the left full-back’s 30-yard effort hit against the crossbar.

Ammer’s usual threat on the counter is always present and Chigumira and Diallo combined again to put the latter one-on-one with Liam Marsden at right full-back. Diallo put on a show with a drag back then pushing the ball infield, freeing him of his marker but there was too strong a connection on the ball as it was hooked well wide of the near post.

Chigumira drew yet another foul on the counter, his quick feet matching the pace of Ammers’ three moments of retaliation as we approached the final twenty minutes.

Diallo found space where there wasn’t much afforded, offering an alternative strategy for Ammers, unfamiliarly holding possession against a deep, compact defence. Evading the two-man pressure when pushing the ball ahead of his right-foot, his route to goal was quickly blocked again when shooting.

That opened space up for Aaron Sennett-Neilsen, twisting inside then out for a tame right-footed shot from the edge of the box.

Frost chose to hit one from distance, dipping under the bar until Viles appeared mid-flight to tip over.

Substitute Finlay Wade’s chance to win the game seemed to fall to him too prematurely in his appearance, mis-hitting the strike after Diallo had played the ball ahead of the winger’s path to move one-on-one with Retford’s ‘keeper.

Rio Korbel’s exit in added-time further depleted Ammers’ stars to nine, two yellow-cards for similar late challenges.

The referee’s whistle just minutes later kept the rescue mission for safety on a cliff-hanger, closing the gap to just three-points adrift of 20th-placed Armthorpe.

It’s take two for Ammers with another visit to Retford on Wednesday evening, visiting Retford United in the league at Cannon Park.