Retford United started 2015 as they ended 2014, with a heavy defeat in NCEL Premier Division action.
The Badgers returned from the long journey to Pickering Town empty handed following the 4-1 loss, in the first of eight January fixtures.
There was a good start for United with Adam Lee and Josh Batty both threatening the Pickering goal, while the Retford back four kept their hosts at bay.
Leigh Hutchinson did well to get the ball to the byline, his cross for Lee was laid off for Kyle Hadley to strike, but his shot was cleared and set the hosts off on a run through Joe Danby with Tom Fuller palming the shot round his post for a corner.
Retford could do nothing about the opening goal on nineminutes, a superb strike from distance from defender Robbie Hawkes that gave Fuller no chance.
The Badgers were almost level minutes later as Batty played the ball in for Hutchinson who fed Lee, the Pickering keeper getting a hand to the ball to save.
Fuller was called into action again, saving at the feet of Billy Logan as Pickering threatened, but United kept pushing, Batty’s cross finding Hutchinson but his effort was cleared.
Jimmy Walker was inches wide of the upright, hitting the side netting with a great effort then Hadley shrugged off the attention of Lewis Taylor but his forward ball to Batty caught the Retford man offside.
On 34 minutes Retford were made to pay for the missed chances, as another superb effort from Hawkes increased the home side’s lead.
Sam Calvert should have extended the lead but somehow put the ball over the bar from close range from Logan’s pass, then Fuller kept the Pikes at bay with a save with his right hand from a free-kick.
The second half saw Leigh Hutchinson do well to shield the ball from the defence, and as he went down under a challenge, his shouts for a penalty were waved away.
Danby saw a chance hit the side netting and a fumble from Fuller was somehow hit over the bar.
Kyle Hadley hit a shot well over the bar, then Hutchinson’s run ended with a shot at the keeper and Hadley firing over.
Retford had their best chance with around 10 minutes remaining, David Buck getting into the box but only finding the crossbar with his shot.
Billy Logan put the game beyond doubt on 82 minutes with a good strike from the right as Retford failed to clear then in stoppage time, Jordan Outerbridge scored a flattering fourth goal to seal the win for the Pikes.
A late strike from Adam Lee after good work and tenacity from Hutchinson to keep the ball in play and get a cross from the byline for Lee to score was consolation for the Badgers but another defeat keeps them in 18th position with a tough fixture list coming up.
United return to the Jones and Co Stadium on Saturday as they face Athersely Recreation in the league, then it’s the Notts Senior Cup action the following Tuesday evening (13th) as United take on Hucknall Rolls Leisure at home.