It was Hall too much for Rainworth
On this display Rainworth may yet avoid relegation.
Rainworth’s run against play-off teams continued today with a home fixture against Leek Town, who along with Mickleover Sports are arguably the best teams in the league.
The fixture would prove an insight into Rainworth’s chances of avoiding relegation and how far they’d progressed since the 6-0 thrashing inflicted by Leek on the opening day of the season.
Leek Town had advantage of the strong breeze in the first half, but both sides struggled to come to terms with it in the opening few minutes.
It was Leeks goal that was threatened first when in the 9th minute Gino Kelleher played the ball into Chris Betteny’s path and from outside the area his drive just flashed pass the post.
Rainworth failed to take advantage in the 12th minute when from a long throw the ball eventually fell to Romaine Graham, but his effort was well over.
Leek showed their class when in the 20th minute an inch perfect ball from Dan Shelley was met by Tim Grice, as he ghosted between defenders, only to put his effort just over the bar.
Leek Town captain Sam Hall was giving a display worthy of a player who must surely be included in the Evo-Stik Division One South ‘Team of the Year’. He seemed to always have time on the ball and in truth was the only player unaffected by the elements.
Rainworth still created the odd chance but in a counter attack Leon Osborne found Grant Ryan, but his effort ballooned over the bar.
It had taken Leek over half the first half to come to terms with the elements and the game had been pretty even, but now they were beginning to dominate play.
Dan Shelley’s goal bound free-kick was deflected for a corner by Dan White as they began to tighten the screw.
In the 32nd minute a flowing Leek move saw Hall and Shelley involved, but Ashley Jackson’s effort was well over and this was quickly followed by Shelley’s shot on the turn, which again was wide of the goal.
Just when it looked that Rainworth would survive the half they were undone in the 38th minute when an inch perfect cross was matched by Tim Grice’s lovely flick on to open the scoring.
The goal would have graced any match and Grice’s effort found the only part of the goal that David Reay couldn’t reach.
In the final minutes of the half Leek pushed to drive home their advantage and but for White’s blocking of Grice and Sean Kinsella’s efforts, they may well have done so.
The referee brought the half to an end with Leek having a slender 1-0 lead in a half were Rainworth battled against a very good footballing side.
Rainworth threatened the Leek goal in the 53rd minute when from a long ball Ryan just got there before the keeper and a defender, but it went wide.
It was Leek’s turn when Tyler Williams cut into the area and played it back into Kinsella’s path but his shot went well over the crossbar.
Leek almost doubled their score a minute later when Grice found himself one-on-one with Reay but the keeper saved his effort with his outstretched leg.
Rainworth made a couple of substitutions bringing on Glodi Bange and Darren Mansaram for Ryan and Osborne.
Rainworth were fortunate in the 80th minute when the ball bounced about in the area and as players of both sides attempted to make contact it deflected off White for a corner.
In final minutes Rainworth nearly equalised when Bettney ran on to through ball and struck a fierce drive that was brilliantly saved by Ben Chapman at full stretch.
There was still time for Leek to almost add to their score when Williams shot was touched onto the post by Reay, but that was the final effort of the match.
A Leek side in which Sam Hall stood out, deserved to win but they were made to battle all the way by a Rainworth side that just lacked the necessary cutting edge.
Rainworth’s remaining fixtures are against mid table sides with the exception of fellow relegation candidates Kidsgrove Athletic and that more and more looks like being the biggest game of the season.
RAINWORTH: Reay; Bettney; Hodgett-Young; Freeman; White; Brock (I.Robinson); Kelleher; Ofushine; Graham; Ryan (Bange); Osborne (Mansaram). Subs (not used: E.Brown; Williams.
Referee: Nicholas Hopton
Man of match: (Rainworth) Kuwesi Ofushine.
(Overall): Sam Hall