Green Shoots, At Long Last.
Not the finished article but glimpses of what can be achieved.
It would be easy to dismiss Rainworth’s victory away against a Romulus side that are in the top half of the table, as down to a red card midway through the first half.
That however wouldn’t be a fair assessment on a performance that showed in glimpses a team moving in the right direction, not yet perfect, but with a promise of much more to come.
In their last three matches Rainworth have scored first, created more chances without turning that dominance into three points, a statistic that had to change if they were to give themselves a chance of survival. Today they took the first tentative steps to addressing it, without scoring first.
Romulus won the toss and decided to kick with a very strong wind at their backs, however it was Rainworth who created the early chances.
In the 5th minute a strong run and cross down the right by Josh Craven, saw Theo Brown thwarted as Stuart Parsons dove bravely at his feet.
Only a foul prevented debutant Romello Nangle breaking after he was found by a lovely through ball fom Kuwesi Ofushine
A minute later and only successive blocks by Jake Turner and Dan White prevented Courtney Baker-Richardson opening the scoring for Romulus.
It was Romulus again in the 17th minute as Lee Smith’s shot from outside the area flew well over the bar.
The game had chances at both ends and in the 20th minute Raven’s long throw was volleyed by Tommy Hannigan but it was easily saved by Parsons.
Then the incident that was to give Rainworth numerical supremacy as Nangle broke for what would have been a one on one with the keeper he was pulled down by Cameron Lee and the referee had no hesitation in showing him a red card.
Rainworth immediately took advantage and Gino Kelleher’s shot was only parried by Parsons and cleared at the expense of a corner. From the corner Hannigan’s header was only inches on the wrong side of the upright.
The 32nd minute saw Rainworth revert to their old ways as from their corner, Romulus broke and only Baker-Richardson’s fluffed shot spared their blushes.
This was quickly followed by a chance at the opposite end as Romaine Graham set up Nangle, but his shot was too high.
Rainworth were thankful to Raven who cleared a Romulus cross that only needed a touch to open the scoring.
Just as Rainworth looked as though they would reach half-time against the strong wind on level terms, in the 40th minute Barry Fitzharris met a ball outside the area and struck an absolute screamer. Turner dived full length and if he touched it only he will know, but the ball struck the inside of the post and nestled in the back of the net for the opening goal.
Romulus had been down to ten men for half of the first half but the wind had helped them negate it, the second half however would be a much sterner test.
To Rainworth’s displeasure the wind had lost some of its strength and they also had to replace Raven with Darren Mansaram, the result of a recurring injury in the 50th minute.
A minute later and Rainworth were level as Turner’s free kick found Dean Freeman on the back post and he stabbed the ball home.
It was Rainworth again in the 66th minute when Ofushine’s shot was only parried by Parsons and Graham made no mistake to give them the lead. This also signalled the debut for Glodi Bange for fellow debutant Nangle.
A minute later Banje was unlucky to see his effort clip the post and into the side netting.
Rainworth for once had a piece of good fortune when a Romulus break ended with the ball in the net only for it to be ruled offside by the assistant referee.
It was almost 3-1 when Kelleher’s looping shot just went the wrong side of the post.
With the game in its final stages Kelleher had to be replaced by Alex Kenlock, not from the physical treatment he had been receiving from the opposition but from a clash of heads with his own player.
Rainworth played out time and deservedly gained all three points that had been a fighting performance from the whole team.
RAINWORTH: Turner; Raven (Mansaram); Freeman; Hannigan; White; Kelleher (Kenlock); Ofushine; Nwadike; Nangle (Bange); Graham; T.Brown. Sub (not used): S.Robinson.
Referee: Mr. Richard Garner.
Man of match: Kuwesi Ofushine