Wrens on the spot to secure shoot-out victory
Notts Senior Cup round III
Gedling MW 2 Rainworth MW 2 (aet pens 2-4)
Report by Gordon Foster
RAINWORTH cleared the first hurdle of their Notts Senior Cup campaign at the third round stage after a dramatic shoot-out at Plains Road on Tuesday night.
But they were made to sweat for their victory by old rivals from their Notts Alliance days, Gedling MW.
Nowadays the Miners ply their trade in the step 6 East Midlands Counties League, —but with the Plains Road club well up their league table and Rainworth struggling near the foot of the Evo-Stik League the difference between the two sides was rather less than the ‘on paper’ two division gap.
It showed, two, for the home side looked by far the more confident outfit for much of the contest and, having established an eighth minute lead through Stephen Cox, they led for the bulk on the prescribed 90 minutes until Chris Hewitt marked his return from a long injury lay-off by coming on as substitute to put away a superb equaliser six minutes from time.
Rainworth began to establish themselves in the extra half-hour but conceded a sloppy goal to Barry Payne four minutes in. However, Craig Mitchell again equalised within seconds of the start of the final quarter-hour, after which the Wrens created more than enough chances to have won it without the need for a spot-kick lottery.
By the end it was clear that Gedling had gone, and they were clinging on to force a shoot out—indeed seconds from the end they introduced Jason Westwood purely and simply to take a penalty.
Ironically Westwood was one of two Gedling players to miss from the spot, whereas only Mitchell was off target for Rainworth, who finally gave their supporters some joy for having to suffer the extra half-hour in the bitter cold.
Gedling made the brighter start in an end to end opening spell, and were gifted an eighth minute lead. Matt Roberts’ loose pass fell straight to Cox who, with time and space to spare, made no mistake from inside the area.
If anything the opening goal gave the home side’s confidence a further boost, although they were well contained by a Wrens defence in which Mark Camm, another back from injury, was immaculate as sweeper. And although the Miners were enjoying the better possession it was Rainworth, striving to undo the damage, who engineered most of the chances.
Julian Topliss, recalled from a loan spell at Arnold Town, always looked good going forward and saw a fizzing 20-yard ground shot well saved by Ross Cherry, while both Topliss and Ant Lynam subsequently had shots off target, and Mitchell scooped the ball too high from 16 yards after working hard to win it.
Rainworth were looking far from convincing though, despite creating most of the openings, and Mark Hales was called upon in the 32nd minute to go down and hold Payne’s header from Danny Roberts’ cross on the line, while Liam Corrigan’s angled effort at the end of a surging run hit the side netting.
When play switched to the other end and Lynam headed Topliss’ deep centre back across the face of goal no-one was on hand to apply the finish, nor for Mitchell’s ball across the six yard box in stoppage time. However, in between those two chances Rainworth were indebted to skipper Hales for a brilliant tip over to deny Jamie Brown who had unleashed a rocket from outside the area.
After early second half Rainworth pressure Payne broke for the home side and threaded the ball through to Brown who was well wide with his shot.
Mitchell should have equalised in the 56th minute but completely miskicked Ryan Carolan’s long angled centre at the far post, and three minutes later Cherry stopped Lynam’s stooping header on the line.
Gradually the pendulum was swinging Rainworth’s way, though, but after missing two chances in as many minutes Lynam was withdrawn in the 79th minute and Hewitt was given his chance.
And it paid off, for five minutes later the substitute cleverly opened up a sniff of an copportunity to put the ball away from the tightest of angles and force the extra half-hour.
However, four minutes into extra time Gedling were back in front from something of a sucker punch when Payne was allowed enough freedom in the area to turn home Brown’s low delivery.
The second period was barely under way before Rainworth were level. Camm showed his team mates how it should be done, briefly abandoning his sweeper role to embark on a surging run down the right before crossing for Mitchell to rise and head home the equaliser at the near post.
The remaining 15 minutes brought a procession of chances for Rainworth as Gedling tired and were relieved to hold out. Tommy Hannigan wasted a gilt-edged opening when he got nothing onto a header in front of goal after a free kick was not cleared, and then Hewitt saw one effort well parried and crashed his follow-up against a post, before next flicking James Jepson’s through pass just wide.
With normal penalty taker Lynam off, keeper Hales took responsibility for Rainworth’s first spot kick which he put away, but home skipper Corey Nightingale responded in kind. Carolan made it 2-1 to the Wrens, and Payne was too high with Gedling’s second attempt. The Wrens’ third, from Mitchell, met a similar fate, but he was relieved to see Westwood’s reply go wide to keep it at 2-1. Matt Baxter and Corrigan both netted to make it 3-2, leaving Jepson to succeed with the pressure fourth kick and give the Wrens the victory.
GEDLING MW: Cherry, Corrigan, Smith, Hayes, Nightingale, D. Roberts, Ibrahim (Boulton 86), Payne, Cox (Greenhalgh 53), Brown, Hall (Westwood 120+2). Subs not used: Ramadam, Frost.
RAINWORTH: Hales, Baxter, Carolan, Camm, Alberry, Hannigan, Jepson, M. Roberts (McLane 101), Mitchell, Lynam (Hewitt 79), Topliss (Jackson 70). Subs not used: Charlesworth, Bainbridge.
REFEREE: Liam Jones of Hucknall.
GOALS: Gedling—Cox 8; Payne 94. Rainworth—Hewitt 84; Mitchell 106. Shoot-out: Gedling—Nightingale, Corrigan; Rainworth—Hales, Carolan, Baxter, Jepson.
MEN OF THE MATCH: Rainworth and overall—Mark Camm. Gedling—Barry Payne.