Rainworth Crash out of the FA Cup
Woeful Wrens get shot down
FACup preliminary round: Brigg Town 6 Rainworth 2—by Gordon Foster
INJURY hit Rainworth crashed out of the FA Cup to Brigg Town at the first hurdle and conceded six goals for the first time since the start of manager Rudy Funk’s reign five years ago.
But the Rainworth boss, predictably, would have no truck with any thought of citing his early season injury problems as a reason for his side’s poor showing.
The Hawthorns has never been a happy hunting ground for the Wrens, who never managed to beat the Zebras’ ground-sharing rivals Grimsby Borough there in the preceding three seasons.
However, few would have expected the magnitude of Rainworth’s second half collapse, after they had led 2-1 until virtually the last kick of the first half.
Brigg had taken an 18th-minute lead from the penalty spot following what seemed an innocuous nudge of a home forward by Danny Naylor.
But Ant Lynam’s quickfire double just before the half-hour had appeared to put the visitors in control, until a misunderstanding at the back gifted the home side an equaliser right at the end of the third and final added minute.
And, within three minutes of the re-start, the game had been turned on its head as Brigg regained the lead from a free header by Adam Holtom, then further goals in the 62nd, 76th and 88th minutes left Rainworth a well beaten side.
Funk described the outcome as ‘not so much embarrassing as tragic’, and added that he was disappointed to have lost out on a Cup cash windfall, disappointed that one or two players he had introduced tot he side proved not quite up to the mark, and disappointed for the travelling supporters.
“The only good thing was the quality of Ant Lynam’s two goals, which were the best two of the match,” he said.
Such are his injury worries, though, that all five outfield players named as substitutes would normally have expected to wear a starting shirt, had they been fit—the fact that they were all unfit but still had to go on the bench told a story all of its own.
Sam Dobbs was given his chance in goal after impressing in pre-season, and there were starts for Andy Jones who replaced the injured Cameron Fearon, centre back Lee Hunt whose own personal contribution prevented an even worse defeat, Matt Baxter returning from injury but lacking match fitness, and Lewis Jackson.
But Hunt, a candidate for Rainworth’s man of the match for some resilient challenges, was lucky that the referee deemed his challenge on Paul Grimes fair—it looked a penalty and had it been given a red card would certainly have ensued.
Rainworth began brightly enough, and inside the first 20 seconds home defender Scott Hellewell had to head Chris Hewitt’s cross from the right decisively to safety.
Indeed, opening exchanges were pretty much end to end with Paul Grimes going close for the home side and Julian Topliss responding in kind for the Wrens.
There was a moment of concern in the 16th minute when the Wrens defenders got in each other’s way from a corner, but Hellewell at the back post was unable to connect.
A minute later Dobbs was quickly off his line to win a race for Jackson’s under-hit back pass, but when the keeper parried a follow-up shot Naylor was alleged to have pushed while attempting to complete the clearance. Daniel Buttle sent Dobbs the wrong way from the penalty spot.
Topliss looked set to equalise but was forced wide and had to be content with a centre which Lee-Roy Cochrane cleared, and then Ryan Carolan did well to win the ball but sent his cross skidding just too far ahead of Lynam’s outstretched leg.
But Lynam had better luck twice within the next four minutes. First he pounced on Scott Raworth’s inability to clear Carolan’s difficult centre, and hit home a fine 27th-minute shot on the turn.
Then two minutes later the striker beat the offside to run onto Topliss’ threaded pass, round two backtracking defenders, and slot home.
Dobbs produced a flying finger-tip save to keep out Daniel Barrett’s 30-yard free kick in the 35th minute, but then Chris Hewitt clattered badly into the perimeter fence while challenging for the ball as home keeper Andy Pettinger tipped away Matt Baxter’s wicked cross. Hewitt was unable to continue and was replaced by Craig Mitchell.
Even so, Rainworth looked set to take their 2-1 lead into the break, until Craig Charlesworth sold Dobbs short with a miscued back pass. The keeper couldn’t gather it and Grimes nipped in to equalise right on half time.
Things grew worse for the Wrens three minutes into the restart, with Holtham unmarked at the back post to meet a right wing cross with a looping header which the stretching Dobbs could not reach before it dropped behind him and into his goal.
As Rainworth looked to get back on terms Topliss went close and Lynam elected to shoot when a better option would have been to square to Mitchell, and the keeper managed to deflect it for a corner which was cleared only after an almighty scramble in the six yard box.
But when Rainworth won another corner the home side broke away from it along the left through Buttle, who outpaced Jones before crossing for Grimes to steer home with the defence unable to get back.
Two minutes later Rainworth hearts were in mouths when Hunt challenged Grimes from behind in the area, and the Zebras striker went down. To everyone’s disbelief and Rainworth’s relief Mr Dwyer deemed the challenge fair and Hunt, who would certainly have walked otherwise, was able to continue.
But Rainworth were looking increasingly a dispirited outfit, and Brigg substitute Phil Jackman completed the rout, first outrunning the newly introduced Lee Wilkinson to finish well in the 76th minute and then two minutes from the end of the 90, swivelling to turn home Grimes’ low cross.
Indeed Jackman almost grabbed his hat-trick in the stoppage time when he beat the offside, only to be thwarted by keeper Dobbs’ fine save.
BRIGG: Pettinger, Raworth, Barrett (Oates 86), Steele (West 90+1), Hellewell, Cochrane, Holtham, Chappell, Paczkowski (Jackman 69), Grimes, Buttle. Subs not used: Melin, Metcalf.
RAINWORTH: Dobbs, Jones, Carolan, Hunt, Charlesworth, Baxter, C. Hewitt (Mitchell 43), Naylor (Sweeney 70), Topliss, Lynam, Jackson (Wilkinson 72). Subs not used: M. Hewitt, Draper, Hales.
REFEREE: D. Dwyer of Castleford.
WRENS MAN OF THE MATCH: Ant Lynam.