Couldn't fault the effort.
Today’s fixture at home to Sheffield FC was the start of ten Cup Finals were points mattered more than performances if Rainworth were to have any chance of avoiding relegation.
After a steady start Sheffield totally dominated the first 20 minutes and deserved to be in the lead with some fans were thinking of a repeat of the 5-0 defeat at Sheffield earlier in the season.
This young Rainworth side however is made of sterner stuff, they may be naive, their passing may lack control at times, but they definitely don’t lack effort or fight and so it showed today.
After a fairly even first five minutes it was Rainworth who had the first attempt on goal, but Elliot Brown’s shot was well held by Jake Eastwood.
Sheffield then went on the offensive and in the 8th minute after a fine passing move Zepheniah Thomas hit his shot well over when well placed.
Then former Wren Ashley Longstaff saw his shot on the turn magnificently tipped over by David Reay.
There was no rest bite and in the 10th minute the ball found Thomas and his clinical volley gave Reay no chance deservedly giving Sheffield the lead.
Sheffield were now well on top and with better finishing could well have added to their tally.
In the 12th minute lax Rainworth defending almost gifted Sheffield a goal, but the attempt was equal to the defending and ended well wide.
Thomas seemed to be on the end of most of the attacks, but in the 20th minute his effort was well over.
Rainworth started to come into the game and a Danny Williams break down the left came to nothing as the weak cross was easily cleared.
That wasn’t the case in the 24th minute when a Williams free-kick was only blocked by Eastwood and Dean Freeman was a whisker away from getting the equaliser.
It was the start of a period of Rainworth dominance and Gino Kelleher’s and Darren Mansaram’s efforts in quick succession were well saved by Eastwood the second at the expense of a corner.
The 27th minute saw Longstaff clear off his line as the Sheffield goal led a charmed life and in a game were Sheffield looked the only winner, it was now in the balance.
A mistake by debutant Elliott Hodgett-Young almost gifted Longstaff but his tame effort was easily gathered by Reay.
The 34th minute saw Rainworth at their most frustrating an excellent passing move came to nothing because the final pass was over-hit.
The 40th minute saw Glodi Bange replace Emeka Nwadike who was unable to continue after sustaining an injury.
The final minutes saw Sheffield back on the attack and in added time Longstaffe had his shot saved at full stretch by Reay and with the last kick of the half Hodgett-Young cleared off the line.
Sheffield probably should have been a couple of goals to the good but Rainworth had shown enough in the half to give their fans hope.
Sheffield started the second half as they had ended the first on the front foot, but Rainworth defended well.
The 55th minute saw the game’s first booking when Romaine Graham broke, but he was cynically brought down by John McGrath, earning himself a yellow card. He was fortunate the referee thought there was a covering defender or the colour may well have been red.
It was Sheffield’s turn in the 59th minute and Rainworth were lucky as Thomas’s shot hit the underside of the bar and was cleared.
Still Rainworth pressed and from a corner Mansaram’s looping header was gathered under the cross-bar by Eastwood. Graham then put his effort just over as the pressure mounted on the Sheffield goal.
They got their reward in the 65th minute when after good hold up play by Graham the ball found Brown and his cross was put in by Bange. It was no more than Rainworth deserved and they were now well in the contest.
Sheffield still had their moments and it was Thomas again who hit a shot just wide. They were however fortunate in the 69th minute when Graham’s block of an attempted clearance was only half-stopped by Eastwood, who was grateful for a defender clearing it off the line.
The game was being played at a fast and furious pace and when James Gregory crossed Longstaff should probably have done better as he boomed his effort well over.
Rainworth however weren’t to be denied and in the 73rd minute it was Graham again holding up the ball, this time setting Kelleher up, who made no mistake to give them the lead.
It could have been even worse for Sheffield as a couple of minutes later Graham appeared to be brought down from behind in the penalty area and Sheffield were mighty relieved when the referee inexplicably waved play on.
In this period it was all Rainworth and in the 77th minute Kuwesi Ofushine broke clear on goal only to see Eastwood make a fine block, the rebound found Graham. He returned the ball back to Ofushine who duly scored only to see the assistant referee rule it out for offside.
Then a moment that summed up Rainworth’s luck this season when in the 80th minute Joel Purkiss’s shot was flying well wide, when it struck Hodgett-Young in the face and diverted into the goal for the equaliser.
The young Rainworth side were visibly deflated and to add insult to injury Sheffield’s Longstaff then put them in front from their very next attack.
Rainworth brought on Grant Ryan for Brown and Oliver Brock for Josh Raven as they went all out for the equaliser.
It was Longstaff again who had the next chance but his effort flew well over.
Rainworth wouldn’t lie down and Freeman’s thunderous volley just flew the wrong side of the upright with Eastwood well beaten.
There was still time for one last effort and Mansaram put the ball in the net only for Rainworth once again to be denied by an offside flag. The decision looked harsh and it was to prove the final chapter in what had been a very eventful game.
Sheffield deserved their early lead and will probably think they should have added to it. Rainworth however must take great credit for their battling display and will look at three decisions and a pure fluke that had cost them getting anything from a game that at one stage looked beyond them.
RAINWORTH: Reay; Raven (Brock); Nwadike (Bange); Freeman; Hodgett-Young; E.Brown (Ryan); Ofushine; Kelleher; Graham; Mansaram; Williams. Subs (not used): Sylla; I.Robinson.
Referee: Mr. Ian Smedley.
Man of match: Romaine Graham.