Rainworth travelled to fourth placed Radford FC and faced a difficult test against one of the leagues form teams, having won ten of their last eleven games.
Today they proved to be up to the challenge and but for a controversial 85th minute penalty decision would have come away from Selhurst Street with a deserved share of the points.
Rainworth had keeper Joshua Downie making his debut in place of Josh Hollis who was still in hospital after rupturing his spleen at Borrowash Victoria in the week. Downie was quickly into the action when in the 3rd minute he cleared from Conor Moore. He was nearly embarrassed in the 10th minute when Ryan Smith blocked his clearance, but he managed to recover before the ball had crossed the line.
Rainworth’s first effort on goal came in the 16th minute but Max Curzon’s shot on the turn lacked power and it was easily cleared. A couple of minutes later and they were almost caught out, but Ben Clarke put his effort wide of the post. A minute later and they found themselves behind when they lost the ball cheaply in midfield and Radford’s quick counter saw Ryan Smith’s effort find the top corner, giving Downie no chance.
Radford had a combination of the crossbar and Hadlee Dunn to thank in the 22nd minute when Curzon set up Cameron Davidson, Dunn tipping his effort onto the crossbar. From the resultant corner two Rainworth heads were inches away from equalising with the goal at their mercy. Radford continued to probe, and Ben Copestake did well to clear Rawarn Jackson’s effort off the line.
The equaliser came in the 38th minute when Aidy Harris broke and set Blessing Adeleye free on the right, when his excellent cross found the feet of Davidson, he gave Dunn no chance. Although Radford had had the better of the first half Rainworth had more than matched them for effort and commitment and fully deserved to draw level, going in 1-1 at half-time.
The second half saw Radford continue to push for a second and Moore wasted a good opportunity to increase the lead but could only find the side-netting. Rainworth brought on Joe Toon for Copestake, who was suffering with a tight chest.
Rainworth almost broke the deadlock when an excellent piece of inter-passing between Harris and Josh Asuman, saw Asuman left prostrate in area after a questionable tackle. At the other end Downie did well to prevent Jackson scoring direct from a corner. And it was cleared.
In the 80th minute Rainworth brought on Liam Jepson for Curzon, having been left on the bench after feeling a tight hamstring in the warm-up.
The game was decided in the 84th minute when Ryan Smith chased a through ball into the area and Downie rushed out and appeared to reach the ball first, but Smith was already on his way down. When the referee blew the whistle for a penalty the Rainworth players to a man were incensed, accusing Smith of diving. The fans behind the goal who had seen the incident felt the referee had been conned. Simon Hore gave Downie no chance from the spot, giving Radford the lead with five minutes remaining.
There were no further chances as Radford ran down the clock and Rainworth had nothing to show from a performance that lacked nothing in effort, although they were guilty of giving the ball away cheaply at times and they were punished.
RAINWORTH MWFC: Downie; Henry; Copestake (Toon); Drake; Spray; Wright; Curzon (Jepson); Davidson; Asuman; Harris; Adeleye.
Subs (not used): Taylor; Doyle; Hardwick.
Referee: Max Atherton