Badgers travelled to the Barnsley side looking for revenge, for a defeat earlier in the season.
The match was preceded by a two minute silence, in memory of Terry Hunt, the Athersley chairman who passed away the day before the game.
Shortly after kick off, Jack Cross showed Retford’s intentions with a ball into the box looking for Liam Wilkin, but the keeper was up to collect.
Reece Thompson brought a save from Darren Shirt, who foiled Cross a minute later.
For Athersley, Lee Bennett headed over and Jason Bentley’s strike hit one of his own players.
The hosts should have gone ahead through Adam White, but his shot hit the top of the bar.
In the 24th minute Retford took the lead, Shirt failing to get hold of a cross and Cross’ shot being turned in by Wilkin for his 14th of the season.
Retford had their tails up, and Thompson got into the box again, but when Shirt parried his ball, Cross couldn’t take advantage.
The crossbar came to Retford’s aid again, when Joe Thornton’s shot rattled the woodwork.
The last chance of the first half fell to Athersley, a free-kick on the left was sent into the box, but was over the bar with Jody Barford untroubled.
Wilkin almost scored a second with his early second half strike going just wide of the post.
There were two yellow cards for Athersley within a couple of minutes fas the game started to get tetchy, the first a challenge on Cross that left the player requiring treatment, and the second for dissent.
Bobby Johnson stroked the ball into the run of Wilkin who was in a great position, but as some of the Retford followers started to celebrate, his strike flew a fraction wide of the upright.
The pressure continued for Retford as the Athersley fans were starting to get onto their own team’s back.
And that was compounded in the 73rd minute when an inch perfect ball from Johnson to Thompson saw the latter strike home his 14th league goal of the season to double the scoreline.
A minute later, Thompson was left wondering how he hadn’t scored a second, a cross in by Wilkin had the keeper beaten and Thompson all alone in front of an open goal, but as he stretched to reach the ball, his toe end was only an inch away from connecting and Athersley cleared.
The final 10 minutes weren’t without incident, a shot by Brett Lucas was tipped away by Shirt, then an Athersley free-kick was saved by Barford.
Retford scorer Wilkin got a yellow card on 83 minutes for a bad challenge, then after he had been floored in the next challenge by Scott Alcock with his first kick of the game, the United player lashed out and received a second yellow followed by a red to end his afternoon.
The latter stages with ten-men United held out and were relatively untroubled and it was a valuable three points and the victory makes it three wins on the bounce in all competitions.
United are next in action on Saturday afternoon at the Jones and Co Stadium against Nostell Miners Welfare in the league, and then at home on Tuesday 3rd December as Eastwood Town are the visitors in the Notts Senior Cup.