All’s Well That Ends Well
Shakespeare's play is often classed as one of his problem plays as it can’t be classified as a tragedy or a comedy, and that just about sums up Rainworth’s season.
Against top of the table sides they seem to perform but against lesser sides they flatter to deceive, often gifting goals to the opposition.
With the same old problem, tonight, of injuries, illness and unavailability that has blighted the season so far and meant a lack of continuity, it only added to the pressure. After losing a two-goal lead on Saturday, confidence wasn’t high against a Real United side that had in their earlier Notts Senior Cup ties proved their ability, against higher opposition.
There was some good news with the return of Tomas Poole from suspension and last season’s top-scorer Liam Morris from injury, albeit on the bench.
The omens didn’t look good when in the first minute Real gave Rainworth a scare when the ball flew across the six-yard box but fortunately for Rainworth there were no takers.
It was Rainworth who took the lead in the 5th minute as Matt Harris latched on to a through ball and as he rounded the keeper he was brought down. The referee immediately pointed to the penalty spot and Matt Sykes made no mistake.
There then followed a period when the both sides negated each other, that was until the 15th minute when Rainworth struck again Harris putting Sykes through on goal and he gave James Elliott no chance.
On 21 minutes, it looked as though Sykes would complete his hat-trick when Nick Langford put him through on goal but Elliott denied him, stopping the effort with his legs.
Rainworth came close to the third in the 27th minute when an excellent passage of play saw Ryan Herbert’s cross met by Harris but it was deflected and Elliott made an excellent save, tipping it around the post.
Three minutes later Harris was through on goal again and this time he gave Elliott no chance for the third. Rainworth brought on Curtis Gregory for Connor Griffin, who was playing his first game after injury.
Real United’s first threat on goal came in the 32nd minute when Owen Brown’s effort was blocked by Townsend.
It was a brief rest bite as Rainworth continued to dominate and Poole was unlucky to see his effort flash the wrong side of the upright.
Gregory and Langford twice came close to increasing Rainworth’s lead but the score remained 3-0.
It seemed that would be the half-time scoreline, but in the 43rd minute Gregory’s effort was blocked by Elliott but Phil Buxton put the rebound into the net.
If Rainworth had thought the game over with a 4-0 lead at half-time, they got a rude awakening in the opening minutes of the second half. Alex Cook almost scored in the 49th minute when his cross cum shot curled over Townsend but landed on the roof of the net. Cook however didn’t miss two minutes later when he raced on to a through ball and gave Townsend no chance.
Real were starting to come back into the game and the home fans were fearing yet another capitulation from a winning position.
Rainworth brought on Bradley Maturin-Drew for Jake Adlington and minutes later Gregory ran onto a through ball in the area but he put it the wrong side of the upright.
On 65 minutes the game ended as a contest when Harris broke into the area and was brought down for the second penalty of the match. It got worse for Real when Jack Caulton was shown a red card for either the tackle or for what he said.
Matt Sykes once again beat Elliott from the spot to complete his hat-trick and Rainworth’s fifth.
Minutes later and an excellent through ball from Buxton found Langford and he made no mistake for the sixth.
On 69 minutes the Rainworth fans got what they had waited so long for the re-appearance of Liam Morris after being out since late August with a serious foot injury.
He was soon into the action heading Maturin-Drew’s cross into the path of Harris who hit an unstoppable shot past Elliott for the seventh.
It was all Rainworth now and the returning Poole hit an absolute screamer from 35 yards that Elliott could only watch as it sailed into the top corner.
There was still time in injury time for Herbert to leave Real’s tiring defenders in his wake has he scored the ninth and Real were put out of their misery by the referee’s whistle for full-time.
Rainworth deserved the victory but the game as a spectacle was spoiled by the red card, although Rainworth missed nearly as many chances as they scored.
RAINWORTH MWFC: Townsend; Adlington (Maturin-Drew); Griffin (Gregory); Buxton (Morris); Ludlam; Mansell; Herbert; Poole; Langford; Harris; Sykes.
Referee: Mr Kenwyn Hughes
Man of the match: Matt Sykes