Below par Wrens are spot on in shoot-out
RAINWORTH licked their wounds and edged into the quarter-final of the Notts Senior Cup after a see-saw spot-kick shootout finally disposed of gutsy Central Midlands hosts Newark Town last night.
Even against opposition from three divisions below, the Wrens were unable to break their scoring duck other than from the spot at the end, for the goal by which they led from the fifth to the 80th minute came from the boot of a home defender.
Frankly, Rainworth should have been out of sight by half time, the opening 45 minutes being played out almost entirely in home territory. But, by the end of extra time, returning goalkeeper Joe McCormack had well and truly stamped his name on the roll of honour for the Wrens’ man of the match—which effectively told its own story.
The Wrens’ woes did not end there though. Skipper Mark Camm lasted just over half an hour before picking up an injury which looks set to sideline him for Saturday’s trip to Kings Lynn, and in extra time the man who took the armband off him, Callum Lloyd, was sent off for a second bookable offence.
On the up side, though, Camm’s replacement, young reserve Jacob Lowe, was one of the evening’s few success stories. Making his first team debut, the youngster put in a mature performance which bodes well for his future.
It was a threadbare Rainworth who took the field, with all four of the previous Saturday’s debutants ineligible having not been signed on for the requisite seven days, and two of the three nominated substitutes not even making it onto the bench, Stephen Akers failing to arrive through transport difficulties and another reserve, Jason Iliffe, missing out on a debut by a sudden attack of sickness, leaving Lowe as the only available fallback.
Rainworth began brightly enough and showed the three-division difference between the two sides, with Conor Higginson going close himself before, in the fifth minute, supplying the cross for Ryan Goward whose sliced shot went in off the boot of the unlucky George Paling.
Adam Kimberley brought two decent saves in as many minutes out of veteran keeper Gary Attwood, who also parried good efforts from Higginson and Goward.
After Camm had pulled up and been replaced by Lowe, Chris Self had the ball in the Rainworth net but saw his ‘goal’ ruled out for offside, but play was soon back at the other end with Higginson hitting the post, Justin Jenkins seeing his follow-up saved, and then Higginson rounding the keeper but only finding the side netting.
The half ended, though, with the hitherto fairly inactive McCormack giving a taste of what was to follow when he acrobatically claimed Sam Bagworth’s far post header.
Newark could have been level in the opening moments of the second half when Dom Swinger, with time and space to spare, shot hurriedly wide.
But, as Newark began to sense they could take something from the match, Lowe dashed across to deny Self a shot from Ricky North’s forward lob, then McCormack produced a superb save, again denying Self.
Newark got the goal they deserved in the 80th minute when substitute Danny Purves was allowed a free header from a right wing cross.
Crucially Lloyd picked up a booking a minute later, but it was Rainworth hanging on to force extra time with McCormack diving to push away Ian Hillier’s 35-yard free kick and Ricky Hanson heading Self’s thunderbolt off the line.
Lloyd received his marching orders in the 101stminute for a second bookable challenge on Hillier, before McCormack again came to the Wrens’ rescue at the end of the first added period with another superb stop to deny Self.
Newark were lucky, though, midway through the second period when Attwood’s clearance struck the challenging Higginson, the keeper relieved to see the rebound go wide.
Newark held the early advantage from the spot when Kimberley’s second Rainworth kick hit the post, but with Mark Ellison set to win it for the home side McCormack pulled off another save. Then, with all but one other Rainworth kicks put away, Attwood hit a post and Jamie Brookes aimed wide, to send relieved Rainworth through.
NEWARK: Attwood, Paling, Ellison, Parsons (Stafford 79), Greenfield, North, Hillier, Brookes, Self, Bagworth (Wilford 62), Swinger (Purves 70). Subs not used: Gregory, Dobbs.
RAINWORTH: McCormack, Jenkins, Hanson, Camm (Lowe 32), Kitchen, White, Lloyd, Kimberley, Higginson, Holmes, Goward. Subs not used: Iliffe, Akers.
REFEREE: Wayne Gray of Mansfield.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Joe McCormack.