Wrens floored by last gasp penalty shocker
A DIABOLICAL refereeing decision two minutes into added time denied much-changed Rainworth the right to extra time in Wednesday’s League Cup preliminary round tie with Stamford.
Lavell White had raised Rainworth hopes with an 80th minute equaliser which cancelled out Gary King’s first half opener for the Daniels.
But in added time Sam Mullarkey’s shot from point blank range struck the arm of the grounded Lee Briggs, who had gone down with his back to the ball after a fine challenge.
In no-one’s mind but that of the match official could this have been construed as deliberate hands. But it was Mr Bell’s opinion which counted and, to the disbelief of the home side and their supporters, he pointed to the spot, and King gleefully blasted the spot kick home to the delight of the visitors.
Rainworth sent out an experimental side which included only three players who had started the previous match at New Mills, and those three all played in different positions, so it was effectively a completely different 11.
New signing from Loughborough Zeke Jenkins made his debut, fellow new boy and ex-Mansfield striker Danny Bacon made his home debut but in an attacking midfield role, Danny Mayman and Eugene Francis made their first starts, and goalkeeper Joe McCormack and left back Jamie Goodacre both made their maiden competitive appearances after picking up injuries in pre-season.
Apart from Bacon, of the Wrens’ starting line-up, only Ricky Hanson, who switched to right back, and Lee Cooksey, who moved to central defence alongside Joe Carter, had also started at New Mills.
And although there were question marks about the defending for both the first goal and the incident which led to the penalty, there was nevertheless much to be satisfied about in the Wrens’ overall performance, not least from the industrious Bacon and the cultured Mayman.
Either of those, along with McCormack, could have taken man of the match, while Francis, Jenkins and White also showed no little flair going forwards, although White probably needs to learn when releasing the ball is the more appropriate option, because he tended to undo a lot of his own enterprising work by taking on one man too many and losing out in consequence.
Stamford failed to pull the trigger inside the first two minutes when Matthew Cook’s angled centre speared across the area only for Jake Gibson to completely miss his touch at the far post.
A minute later it was Rainworth’s turn when Mayman’s dream of a through pass sent White on a run into the area, only to be forced wide and over-run it out.
Francis was also guilty of trying to beat one man too many when he weaved in and out of the defence in the Daniels’ area but ultimately had the ball taken off his toe.
However, Stamford were unlucky not to draw first blood in the 18th minute, King’s looping header onto a free kick beating McCormack but coming back off the far post.
Another great pass by Mayman gave Bacon half a sight of goal, and his shot took a deflection for a corner.
Carter charged across the Rainworth box in the 37th minute to deny Mullarkey who had been found in space by King, but a minute later suicidal defending gifted Stamford the lead.
The Wrens defenders tried dribbling the ball out of the six yard box, inevitably failed, and King was on hand in the right of the area to lash home a shot which gave McCormack no chance of saving.
Another two minutes on only a super stop by the Wrens keeper denied King a second, but Rainworth had one more chance of an equaliser before half time. Mayman touched a free kick to Bacon, who picked out Cooksey at the far post, but he was unable to keep the finish on target.
After the interval Rainworth took up the early running and Bacon saw a good header saved from Goodacre’s cross.
Then when Mayman won a free kick in a central position 25 yards out, Goodacre’s blistering direct shot brought an equally fine save out of Mario Ziccardi.
A rare error by Hanson let in Mullarkey for the visitors, and the Wrens’ otherwise competent defender was relieved to see McCormack spare his blushes with a full-length stop.
Stamford sub David Staff scooped a glorious chance over the far post before Rainworth came back again with four on two following some persistent work by Bacon, but Oli Wood’s cross into the box did not match the approach.
However, the Wrens gained a deserved 80th minute equaliser. Hanson’s great work enabled him to angle a cross into the area which Ziccardi tipped aside only as far as White in the left of the area, and White this time finished clinically.
Ziccardi smothered a shot by Wood as Rainworth went looking for the winner, and then Hanson fed George Zuerner who was quickly closed down in the area before he could get his shot away.
However, two minutes into overtime, Cooksey was caught out as Stamford attacked down the left. When the cross came over McCormack parried well from Mullarkey, and as Briggs threw himself in the way of the follow-up with his back to the ball, it struck his arm, and Mr Bell, who had hardly endeared himself to the home fans with some seemingly less than even-handed decision making, delivered the coup de grace, leaving King to give McCormack no chance from the spot.
RAINWORTH: McCormack, Hanson, Goodacre (Briggs 85), Carter, Cooksey, Bacon, Zuerner, Mayman (Clarke 78), Francis, White, Jenkins (Wood 67). Subs not used: Timons, Mitchell.
STAMFORD: Ziccardi, Cook, Maddox, Brooks, Chamberlain, Jacklin, Beeson (Staff 73), Steadman, King, Mullarkey, Gibson. Subs not used: Burkett, Toyne, Oliver.
REFEREE: Michael Bell of Rotherham.
GOALS: Rainworth—White 80. Stamford—King 38, 90+2 pen.
MEN OF THE MATCH: Rainworth—Danny Bacon. Stamford—Gary King.