Rainworth 1 Grantham Town 2—report by Gordon Foster
GOALS late in each half left Rainworth with no reward for a gutsy display against Grantham Town in Billy Millar’s first game as confirmed manager of the Wrens.
Ant Lynam had given Rainworth the benefit of a 15th-minute lead, but the Gingerbreads equalised on the stroke of half time and then snatched an 86th minute winner.
Rainworth, playing for the first time in over three weeks, had good cause to reflect that their efforts had been worth a point, although Grantham edged territorial advantage.
But Millar and assistant boss Lee Wilkinson remained upbeat despite the disappointment of defeat, rightly so for there were undoubted positive signs of the hoped for recovery.
Prestige new signing Mark Camm was handed his home debut, but not in his favoured midfield position. Instead he filled in effectively as sweeper with the defence short on numbers.
Meanwhile the return to action of both Ryan Carolan and Matt Roberts after long term injury was like having two more new players in the side, added to which former Ilkeston midfielder Josh Burge also made a promising debut, after coming on as substitute for the final quarter-hour or so.
In the end, though, Rainworth were authors of their own misfortune to some extent. Grantham’s equaliser came from a needlessly conceded free kick almost right on the 18-yard line, and took a wicked deflection, while the winner came following a fairly lucky rebound of Lynam’s attempted pass, off Sam Saunders
to his twin brother Ben, who finished with aplomb.
Rainworth began brightly with Barry Alberry’s downward header onto James Jepson’s free kick from the right bouncing wide of the near post in the fourth minute.
Then Town keeper Rob Murray competently claimed Matt Baxter’s accurate angled cross off the head of Craig Mitchell.
Mark Hales had to be at his best in the 12th minute though, first clawing the ball off the head of Matt Glass, then recovering to touch Sam Saunders
’ follow-up for a corner, leading to another full stretch save for a second corner before the danger was finally cleared.
Ben Saunders guided a free header onto yet another flag kick too high a minute later, but it was Rainworth who were celebrating in the 15th minute. Mitchell capitalised on a slip by former Hucknall FA Trophy finalist Gary Sucharewicz and fed a delightful pass to strike partner Lynam, who ran two or three paces through inside right before firing clinically past the exposed Murray.
On a wet surface the game continued to flow from end to end, Hales again denying Glass with a fine stop and Mitchell caught marginally offside as he looked to profit from Cameron Fearon’s good work and cross.
Rainworth had a let-off when Camm slipped, allowing the ball to run through to Ben Saunders, whose first attempt Hales parried well, with his follow-up blocked by a quickly covering defence.
Carolan’s glancing header from another Jepson free kick flew beyond the far post, but Grantham were enjoying the greater share of the attacking play at this stage, only to run into a resilient defence in front of an on-form Hales.
However, the keeper was grateful to push a wicked effort onto his bar and was fouled in the ensuing melee, but was finally beaten three minutes into added time.
Roberts needlessly fouled Lee Potts on the 18-yard line, and Chris Glarvey’s driven free kick took a wicked deflection in a crowded area, wrong-footing Hales who could do nothing as the ball went into the net off his body, almost right on the whistle.
Lynam had the ball in the Grantham net five minutes into the re-start but was offside, and three minutes later Hales beat away Gio Carchedi’s finish after the Town substitute had cleverly engineered a yard of space in the box.
Potts made a crucial interception as Mitchell looked to set up Lynam in Rainworth’s next attack, and Carolan’s attempt from another Jepson free kick was blocked by the outstretched leg of a Gingerbreads defender.
But the Wrens breathed a huge sigh of relief in the 66th minute when Hales lost a race for possession with the lively Ben Saunders. But as his shot ran goalwards Barry Alberry dashed back to clear.
Sucharewycz just managed enough of a touch to prevent Fearon from finishing off Roberts’ low centre into the box.
Hales then preserved parity in the 85th minute, denying Garchedi by saving with his legs in a one-on-one.
But a minute later Grantham got the winner, and were then content to employ some time-wasting tactics as they sat on their lead.
They almost got a third goal, which would have been hard on Rainworth, in added time but Hales was quickly out to block with his body as Alex Haughton burst clear.
RAINWORTH: Hales, Fearon (Paling 77), Carolan (Jackson 86), Camm, Charlesworth, Alberry, Baxter, Roberts (Burge 78), Mitchell, Lynam, Jepson. Subs not used: Topliss, Hewitt.
GRANTHAM: Murray, Purcicoe (Lewis 71), Potts, Asher, Sucharewycz, Watt, Glarvey (Haughton 86), S. Saunders, Glass, B. Saunders, McGhee (Carchedi 30). Subs not used: Hallcro, Rhule.
REFEREE: Christopher Ward of Blyth (Notts).
GOALS: Rainworth—Lynam 15. Grantham—Glarvey 45+3; B. Saunders 86.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Mark Hales.