Rainworth Are Made to Pay for Waking Stafford from Their Slumber.
Early promise dashed by a quality side.
Stafford Rangers came to Kirklington Road expecting to take the three points with a line-up that read more like a Premier Division side than one in Division One South.
However they got a rude awakening when Rainworth deservedly took an early lead, unfortunately for Rainworth this only served to awaken Stafford from their slumber to give a performance befitting of a Premier division side.
Rainworth hadn’t lost in January, but Stafford have only lost one league game since November and that was a solitary one goal defeat away at league leaders Sutton Coldfield.
From the kick-off Stafford were given a warning as Romello Nangle had the ball in the net in the first minute, but it was correctly disallowed for offside.
Rainworth were undaunted and gained their reward in the 9th minute when Theo Brown’s cross from the right was met by Dean Freeman whose shot found the corner of the net to deservedly give them the lead.
At this stage Rainworth were matching Stafford and looked a threat going forward, but the goal seemed to awaken Stafford and they began to grow into the game, giving a performance of a team destined for the Premier division.
Rainworth had their first warning in the 18th minute when to their relief Nathan Smith’s inviting cross evaded everyone. However Stafford’s pressure was building and Rainworth were now finding it much more difficult to break out.
Stafford should probably have scored in the 30th minute when the games outstanding player Ryan Edmunds played a beautiful ball into the area but Freeman reacted quickest and was able to clear.
It was now all Stafford as Smith’s header went across the face of the goal and out for a goal kick.
A goal seemed inevitable but when it came in the 39th minute there was an element of good fortune about it, Edmonds mazy run and goal bound shot was blocked by Dan White but the ball looped to Dan Cope who needed no second invitation to chip Jake Turner and put it into the far corner.
The goal was no more than Stafford’s play deserved but in the final minute Rainworth nearly restored their lead when Brown’s goal bound shot was deflected over.
There was still time for Stafford to emphasise their quality as in injury time Peter Still’s screamer from the edge of the box just went the wrong side of the post.
As the whistle went for half time Rainworth were left to reflect on their good start, but in truth Stafford had been dominant for most of the half.
The second half opened with Rainworth coming more into the game and in the 61st minute gave Stafford an almighty scare. Nangle who was having an impressive home debut created space and his shot easily beat Whitehouse but hit the inside of the post and came out. The rebound came on his ‘wrong foot’ and he hit it well wide.
A goal then may have changed the course of the game but it only served to fuel Stafford’s quest for the winner.
They came close in the 66th minute when Turner blocked Smith’s goal bound effort with his feet.
Rainworth brought on Darren Mansaram for Glodi Bange, but in the 72nd minute Stafford took the lead. Rainworth’s defence led by Dan White had defended magnificently against the onslaught but for once they were caught out as James Dance found Till. In an instance he created room and made no mistake as he threaded his shot into the bottom corner.
Still Rainworth came forward and in the 77th minute Whitehouse was a relieved keeper when Brown’s run and cross sailed over his head only to land on top of the net, rather than in it.
Then Stafford benefited from another deflection in the 80th minute when Edmunds fell into Dance’s path and he made no mistake.
Rainworth brought on Oliver Brock and Ian Robinson for Kuwesi Ofushine and Emeka Nwadike but it was Stafford who had the final shot of the game but Edmunds fierce strike was well blocked by White.
Rainworth’s quest for survival will not be determined against opposition of Stafford’s quality and whilst in the end they were well beaten they gave their opponents a scare and look like a team moving in the right direction.
RAINWORTH: Turner; Freeman; T.Brown; Hannigan; White; Kelleher; Ofushine (Brock); Nwadike (I.Robinson); Nangle; Graham; Bange (Mansaram). Sub (not used): Silla.
Referee: Mr. Adam Burgess.
Man of match: Dan White.