Badgers welcomed back Rob Sanderson to the side, but were lacking in the striking department with Bobby Johnson ill and Scott Bibby unavailable.
Retford’s Ward had an early chance, rising to make contact with the ball in the Thackley box, but his effort was off target.
For Thackley Jordan Missin was denied by visiting keeper Ayden Duffy and Brice Tiani had a tame shot.
Retford maintained good pressure on their hosts, Liam Slack looking lively up front but unable to get a clean connection on the ball as the Thackley keeper went to ground to smother the ball.
Adam Scott was forced to retire from the match after just 15 minutes, struggling with a calf injury and having to be replaced by Shaun Nesbitt.
Graeme Severn’s superb block tackle kept Thackley out, and then Andy Walkden couldn’t get his shot through to goal at the other end.
Early in the second half Tiani fired wide of Duffy’s upright, and Kyle Hadley blasted over for Retford.
Retford came agonisingly close to an opener when a free-kick into the box found the head of Slack, but the ball rolled inches wide.
With 20 minutes left the officials came to the rescue of the away side, as the ball found the net but a raised flag halted Thackley’s celebrations.
They were further frustrated when Duffy pulled off a fine save from Mark Bett’s top-corner bound shot, and on 87 minutes Retford rubbed salt into the wounds by taking the lead.
A foul on Luke Walker gave Ward the chance to line up a free-kick, and he curled it round the wall and into the net to win the game for the Badgers, making it three victories on the trot.
Retford are now in action in the League Cup, travelling to Barton Town Old Boys on Wednesday, before the visit of Scarborough Athletic on Saturday.