Basement Battle Decided in Final Tense Minutes
Today’s bottom of the table clash between Kidsgrove Athletic and Rainworth was as big a ‘six-pointer’ as it gets.
Both sides had got off to poor starts in the Evo-Stik Division One South and both had much changed squads from that which had started the season.
On exchange of the team sheets before the match Rainworth became aware of the enormity of their task, if they hadn’t known already
The early exchanges saw both sides probing hoping to gain an advantage and Kidsgrove began to make the advantage of the slope count.
In a period when both sides had numerous consecutive corners, neither were able to add that finishing touch.
Rainworth created a chance in the 20th minute when Dean Freeman’s long throw was cleared to Mark Camm, but his first time shot was well wide of the goal.
Then Rainworth debutant Gino Kelleher on work experience from Notts County evaded a couple of tackles but his curling effort was just wide.
Kidsgrove went even closer when in the 23rd minute Matt Haddrell’s header was cleared on the line by Dan White.
It was Haddrell again in the 27th minute but his goal bound shot was deflected by Freeman at the expense of a corner.
Rainworth too had chances as in the 31st minute Alex Haughton’s shot was blocked and fell to Craig Mitchell, but his effort was well wide.
Kelleher won the ball in midfield and ran at the Kidsgrove defence and was unlucky to se his shot flash the wrong side of the post.
Both sides were competing for everything but the whistle went for half-time with neither side able to break the deadlock.
The second half started with Kidsgrove on the attack and Haddrell’s through ball to Ryan Brown created a good chance, but his shot just cleared the bar.
A minute later in the 54th minute Aiden Matranga’s shot was blocked by Theo Brown at the expense of a corner. From the resultant corner Chris Flynn’s effort just cleared the crossbar with Jake Turner well beaten.
Rainworth retaliated with Kelleher showing skill and composure as he evaded lunging tackles, hitting his shot just the wrong side of the post. The play was brought back however with Rainworth being awarded a free-kick for a foul on Kelleher in the act of shooting.
The 63rd minute saw Rainworth substitute Ian Robinson for Haughton.
In his first involvement Robinson’s through ball found Henry Sibenge who beat the keeper, but as his shot rolled towards goal it was cleared.
On 73 minutes Kidsgrove had a great chance to take the lead but Dave Walker’s crossed ball just went behind Haddrell with the goal beckoning.
At this point Kidsgrove were in the ascendancy and Rainworth brought on Alex Kenlock for Mark Camm.
In quick succession Freeman’s header was easily saved, but Kelleher was unlucky to see his shot on the turn just flash wide.
In the 90th minute Rainworth brought on Alex Loughran for Sibenge and with his first meaningful touch hit the perfect cross. Players from both sides made efforts to connect but it was Freeman who put it into the net, to open the scoring.
In the final minute Walker had a great chance to get the equaliser but his effort flashed just over the crossbar and the referee blew for full-time.
Rainworth had taken the points, but in all honesty Kidsgrove deserved something from the game and could even have been the victors, such were the fine margins.
The positives for Kidsgrove was they at no stage looked like a team destined for relegation and with the additions to their squad now have a fighting chance to move up the table. Rainworth have in Kelleher acquired a young talent to go with the experience and will hopefully build on today’s success.
RAINWORTH: Turner; Hannigan; T. Brown; Freeman; White; Camm (Kenlock); Mitchell; Nwadike; Sibenge (Loughran); Haughton (Robinson); Kelleher. Subs (not used): Brock; Ofushine.
Referee: Mr. Steven Mylock.
Man of match: Dan White.