Retford started the new year with a resounding victory over strugglers Lincoln Moorlands at home on Tuesday night.
It was the Badgers’ first outing of 2014, after Saturday’s clash with Glasshoughton fell victim to a waterlogged pitch.
Reece Thompson starred for Retford in midweek, scoring a hat-trick for the hosts.
Jake Stannard and Craig Fisher took the central defensive berths and there was a place on the bench for Kyle Hadley who was returning from a long injury lay off.
There was also a place on the bench for new signing Josh Giles who had signed from Goole United the previous day.
The game started with a bang, Graeme Severn striking the post with his effort, Thompson offside as he tried to net the follow up ball.
Jack Cross played a ball over for Ben Muirhead, but the United striker couldn’t get a touch on the ball.
A free-kick whipped in by Cross was tipped over the bar by Richard Chester in the Lincoln net, then Bobby Johnson sent in a corner kick that again was palmed away by Chester.
Retford’s opening goal came on 16 minutes, and it was man of the moment Thompson who was the scorer, picking up the ball wide on the left wing, cutting inside to get into a central position before hitting a bullet of a shot that had Chester well beaten.
Lincoln then had a chance, the ball played low into the box and Stannard was forced to put the ball out for a corner.
Another break for Thompson saw the striker get in front of goal, but this time his shot was deflected over for a corner.
O’Neill again was almost on the scoresheet, firing the ball at Chester with Johnson unable to make the most of the follow up.
The scoreline was increased on the half hour, a corner from the right was met by the head of Gav Cooper to find the target, then two minutes later a third was added, as a neat lay off from O’Neill to Johnson was driven into he back of the net from distance.
The game then took a bad turn for the home side with the loss of Cooper on 34 minutes through injury and a few minutes later Johnson had to be carried off after going over on his ankle.
Right on the stroke of half-time, Lincoln had a rare effort, Ashley Bradley dipping a shot wide of Barfords post, but United went in three up at the break.
Bradley was cautioned for a stamp on O’Neill as the game started to boil over with some poor challenges coming in from the Lincoln players, but Retford continued to do the talking with the football.
Lincoln had a spell of pressure but never really troubled Barford, the best an effort from Dominic Sibilski which was straight at the United keeper.
On 66 minutes, Thompson scored his second of the game after good work by Slack to slot home.
Three minutes later the game was over, as Thompson made his way into the box and was hacked down, the referee pointing straight at the spot.]
There was only one man to take the penalty and Thompson stepped up to score for his hat-trick.
With O’Neill again going close with a header from a corner, and Rob Sanderson coming on to replace Thompson up front, also heading wide United were firmly in control of the game and the misery increased for Lincoln with the second yellow card for Bradley resulting in a red in stoppage time for another bad challenge.
It was a good game for Retford to increase their goal difference, but was overshadowed by injuries to two players, who will be assessed before the trip to Staveley Miners Welfare on Saturday.
Next week United are in the Notts Senior Cup Quarter Final against Southwell City, away, on Wednesday evening.