A Modest start for Rainworth at Clay Cross.
The venue at Clay Cross for today’s friendly, is the one I look forward to most in pre-season and like always I wasn’t disappointed.
It gave me a chance to catch up with Martin and his committee at their lovely little ground and sample hospitality at its very best. For long enough I’d heard about their infamous sausage cobs and today I was fortunate enough to sample one. Words cannot do the experience justice, you simply must try one for yourself, they’re ‘Egg ‘n Ronnie’ 5 Star!!
Rainworth, who had a few players unavailable due to holiday and injury, included new signing Nathan Modest in an attempt to improve on their chance to goal ratio, and they started brightly, but in the 7th minute a lapse in concentration at the back almost gifted Clay Cross the opening goal. After the scare Rainworth started to get into their passing game and although there was room for improvement there was a lot to please the eye. Once again chances were created without converting them into goals, but a number of these were down to good goalkeeping. Sam Saunders, Jamie Brown and Ricky Hanson must have wondered what they had to do to get the ball past him. New boy Nathan Modest had made an impressive start with his neat control and passing and his ability to inject pace into the final third, always looking a threat.
In the 32nd minute his impressive debut became even better when he scored from an overhead bicycle-kick. Just as Rainworth had seemingly found the answer to their scoring problems, they fell asleep at the back. A good through ball found Gary Morton, and with the Rainworth defence screaming for a non-existent offside, he coolly slotted the ball past James Martin for the equaliser.
Rainworth quickly regained their composure and a great ball from Brown to Hanson resulted in a tremendous double save, with the ball somehow managing to avoid the back of the net. Then just before the half-time whistle another flowing Rainworth move ended with Danny Buttle hitting an unstoppable volley just the wrong side of the goal. In fairness to Rainworth the 1-1 score line was more down to the Clay Cross defending than their inability to convert their chances.
The second half started much as the first had ended with Rainworth pushing forward at every opportunity, to their credit Clay Cross continued to defend for their lives. There is a limit though to how much pressure a team can withstand and in the 57th minute Modest received the ball on the edge of the area and coolly passed the ball into corner of the goal to restore Rainworth’s lead. Rainworth had no intention of letting their opponents back into the game a second time and intensified their barrage on goal. Brown, Joe French and Callum Lloyd all had fierce shots somehow well saved by the keeper and a never-ending supply of crosses were being repulsed by Sharman.
By now Clay Cross was beginning to tire and Rainworth were starting to overrun them. It was therefore somewhat bizarre that the two players who had done most to keep the score down contributed to Rainworth’s third goal. Brown, like he had done most of the game, left the defence in his wake and unleashed yet another fierce drive. The goalkeeper once again somehow parried the shot only for Sharman as he ran back to deflect it past him into the goal. There was still time for Brown and Modest to have further attempts, but the whistle went for full-time with Rainworth deservedly winning 3-1.
Both sides will take a lot of positives from the game, which was played at a high tempo and in the right spirit. As for Rainworth they still have a few areas to work on and are not yet the finished article, but in Modest they have acquired a player who will be an asset in the coming campaign. With the start of the season just two weeks away, Rainworth will be hoping to start the campaign running.