A Hard Fought Derby Encounter
This was the first meeting between Eastwood Town and Rainworth in the Evo-Stik Division One South, and whilst never a classic there was no quarter given.
Eastwood had the better of the early exchanges, but it was the trees behind the goals that were in more danger of being hit than the goal netting.In fact we had to wait until the 19th minute before either goal was threatened and it was Jason Bradley’s drive that whistled past the post with Alex Malong a mere spectator.The only other action of note was in the 42nd minute when Liam Garner’s deftly flicked header had the crowd rising in unison to acknowledge the goal. Alas the ball hadn’t found the back of the net, leaving the home crowd with a half-time talking point. Eastwood had the better of the exchanges in a fiercely fought half, in which neither side had been able to add the finishing touch.
The early part of the second half followed the same pattern as the first with the trees still in imminent danger from yet more wayward shooting. Just when it looked that neither side would break the deadlock, Eastwood found the back of the net. Sam Saunders was winning the physical battle with ex Wren Kieran Wells but, in the 51st minute, when a cross found Wells on the edge of the area, his well-placed header found the top corner. In the past that would have been the end of the match as a contest, but Rainworth rallied and took the game to Eastwood.
They nearly capitalised on a Jamie Brown break, when his well hit cross just evaded Jason Bradley and was gratefully collected by Malong. In the 74th minute Gregg Archer and Jamie Clarke came on for Jordan Claxton and Bradley as Rainworth continued to pressure the home side. Jamie Brown almost capitalised in the 76th minute, but his shot was hit wide. Eastwood by now were spending periods defending, and in the 77th minute blocked Nathan Modest’s fierce drive, but Clarke was on hand to hit an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net.
The final minutes of the half were a tense affair with Rainworth pressing for the winner, Clarke’s header was denied at the expense of a corner. Eastwood were reduced to counter-attacks but Jevin Seaton’s shot was nearly put in by Wells and then Tristram Whitman was inches wide with a shot on the turn. The final chance fell to Clarke in injury time after a Malong error, but he was able to atone at the expense of a corner.
Both sides will probably feel they should have won the game, when they look back on their periods of ascendancy. In truth, neither side possessed that killer touch in front of goal, and a draw was probably a fair result. Whilst the league is contested over 42 games, it is how you compete in games like this that usually shape your season. Whilst not a classic, both showed glimpses of what is required, and both could well be in the mix at the end of the season, especially if they can improve their finishing.
RAINWORTH: Martin; Hanson; Dudley; Lloyd; Varley; Saunders; Brown; Holmes; Bradley (Clarke 74); Modest (French 90); Claxton (Archer 74) Subs (not used); Magee; Walker.
EASTWOOD: Malong; Burton; Riley; Hurren; Craven; Whyman; Peel (Dnbbie 61); Garner (.Gowing 81); Wells; Whitman; Seaton. Subs (not used): Robinson; Munn; Shaw.
Referee: Adam Burgess.
Man of match: Sam Saunders