IMPROVING Rainworth ended a run of six straight defeats with a hard-earned point at Ashby Avenue.
The goals drought continued despite the return of Sean Cann who was made captain for the day against his former club, but the first clean sheet since 16th August ensured a fair result.
The Wrens had received a major boost during the morning when Belper Town released their skipper Mark Camm to allow him to sign in time to play.
The influential presence of Camm, who had moved to Belper from Rainworth in the close season, contributed much to and was the inspiration for the Wrens’ best midfield performance to date.
Camm covered almost every blade of grass in the cause, and revelled in renewing his midfield pairing with Ian Clarke who also excelled.
With Cann also returning to the side alongside Danny Bacon up front, Craig Mitchell was given a run in midfield, while Rob Paling and Lee Briggs worked the flanks, Briggs in particular putting in some fine runs, and Tommy Hannigan, Steve Kennedy and Chris Timons formed a most effective defensive unit in front of keeper Joe McCormack.
Rainworth also included Danny Simpson on the bench for his first outing since his pre-season hamstring injury.
Lincoln could have taken a first minute lead. Rainworth conceded a free kick after just five seconds, from which Tery Fleming headed across goal and Peter McDaid nodded wide.
And when, a couple of minutes later, United broke from a Rainworth corner through Chris Funnell, he squared for Jordan Hempenstall to fire straight at McCormack.
As Rainworth got back into the game an enterprising run by Bacon won a corner which home keeper Phil McGann failed to gather. Hannigan headed back across the area to Mitchell, whose own header was wide of the far post.
Kallum Smith, who enjoyed an excellent game for the home side, showed neat close control to open up a half chance from 20 yards midway through the first half, but his shot lacked the quality of his approach and passed harmlessly wide.
Camm’s visionary pass sent Cann on a run along the right to win a corner, and when Cann was released again, this time by Clarke, he saw his cross shot diverted over the bar off the body of Bacon at close range.
Cann was desperate to score against his former club, but seemed inclined to try too hard and, although his running caused the home defence problems through the first half, his old team mates got more of a measure of him after the interval.
Meanwhile Bacon flashed a shot on the turn narrowly wide from the edge of the area in the 37th minute as the scrambling McGann seemed to get nowhere near it.
Two minutes before the break Briggs’ angled cross just would not fall for Cann in the area, but it was Lincoln who had the last word of the first half in added time, when Hempenstall’s drive was diverted for a corner which Brendan McDaid headed off target.
There was nothing to choose in the opening minutes of the second half, until the 53rd minute when Bacon steered Clarke’s free kick wide.
But then it was Lincoln’s turn to apply pressure, Hannigan twice heading away before Camm finally completed the clearance.
Twice Cann was quickly closed down by former Mansfield defender Stuart Reddington as he too aim, then after a terrific left wing cross from Briggs just eluded Bacon at the far post, the striker’s lay-off set up Clarke for an 18-yard rocket which McGann parried on his line.
Bacon was withdrawn with an ankle injury in the 68th minute giving Simpson his chance, but as the game drew t its conclusion Rainworth began to sit deeper and looked to be inviting trouble, although their quite superb defence refused to allow any way through for the home forwards..
However, after penalty appeals more in hope than expectation by the home side fell on the deaf ears of the referee when Brendan McDaid went down in the area from a corner, McDaid then shot straight at McCormack from 18 yards.
Rainworth did have one more half chance in added time, though, but Briggs’ curling attempt fell comfortably into the arms of McGann.
LINCOLN UNITED: McGann, Wright, Smith, B. McDaid, Reddington, P. McDaid, Fleming, Leverett (Wallace 77), Funnell, Hempenstall (McGovern 63), Coupland. Subs not used: Coyde, Dye, Stokes.
RAINWORTH: McCormack, Paling (Gee-Pemberton 77), Briggs, Kennedy, Hannigan, Timons, Camm, Clarke, Bacon (Simpson 68), Cann, Mitchell (Cooksey 71). Subs not used: Zuerner, White.
REFEREE: Chris Akers of Armthorpe.
MEN OF THE MATCH: Lincoln—Kallum Smith; Rainworth and overall—Mark Camm.