RETFORD United got 2013 off to the perfect start, with 2-0 victory on their travels at Heanor Town on Saturday.
The victory, brought about by goals from Bobby Johnson and Richard Medcalf, put Badgers ninth in the NCEL Premier Division.
Heanor started brightly with a free-kick into the box that Ayden Duffy had to punch clear for a corner, but a foul gave Retford a chance to clear their lines.
Reece Thompson looked to make a break, but was cut out by Nico DeGirolamo setting Heanor off on an attack, Ian Clarke drilling his shot just wide of Duffy’s left hand post.
Heanor were looking dangerous in the opening 15 minutes. An effort from long range looped over the bar from Dwayne Wiley but they couldn’t make their chances count.
Adam Scott’s free-kick cleared the wall but the keeper made the save and that would be the last of the action for Scott, who was replaced on 22 minutes by Brett Lucas after receiving treatment for a gash on his knee.
The wound, which needed to be glued together in hospital, looks likely to keep Scott out of the next game.
As the game continued, Bobby Johnson played the ball into the Heanor box, and shouts for handball were waved away by the referee, but Thompson kept up the pressure cutting the ball across the face of goal, Heanor having to frantically hook away for a corner kick.
Lucas cleared for Retford when it looked like Stef Frost was well placed to shoot, and Duffy covered a Phil Austin effort well.
Badgers had a goal ruled out on 42 minutes when Johnson crossed and Richard Medcalf powered a header into the net, but the referee spotted an infringement and halted play.
A minute later however the goal did come – Thompson did well to get the ball to the feet of Johnson just outside the box, he unleashed a shot that took a wicked deflection off Heanor’s Richie Holmes and wrong footed the keeper to put the Badgers ahead at a crucial time in the game.
Craig Aspinall, making his first appearance since re-joining the club from Armthorpe Welfare, replaced Johnson who hobbled off at the break, and the substitute was in the thick of the action with a strong challenge in midfield almost setting Medcalf free.
For Heanor, Nathan Benger, one goal off his 100 for the club, was left frustrated after two good chances, the first blocked on the line by the United defence, then his second an acrobatic effort that fell inches wide of the upright.
On 67 minutes Medcalf received the ball on the edge of the box and made no mistake as he curled his shot into the back of the net to put the Badgers firmly in the driving seat with his second goal for the club.
Karl Slack made his third debut for Retford after his signing before Christmas from Rainworth Miners Welfare, replacing Medcalf with around 15 minutes left.
Patient build up involving Aspinall and Lucas was cleared from the edge of the box, then Heanor should have pulled a goal back as Sam Kellogg got into the box, the ball was crossed in, he was given a free header but when it came to the crunch he couldn’t find the target.
Slack did well to stay strong to shield the ball into the path of Danny Smith who could only fire over the bar, but the points were in the bag for Retford despite two late chances for Heanor, the first off the line by Sanderson and the second forcing a superb save by Duffy to thwart Wiley in stoppage time.
Retford who face a tough January with four of their remaining five games in the month all away from home, starting with a trip to Pickering next Saturday.