Keeper is toast of Brewers as Wrens lose again
Title favourites Tadcaster Albion’s seventh successive win put them top of the league with games in hand on their rivals.
But the toast of the Brewers was heroic goalkeeper Gary Stevens, who preserved his side’s lead with a string of fine stops after they had come from behind to turn around 2-1 up at the break.
Rainworth’s own performance had to be and was a massive improvement on the 6-3 debacle at Thackley in midweek, but even though they were again too charitable at the back and still gave the ball away too often, on this occasion they did not get the rewards that their contribution to an entertaining encounter deserved.
The Wrens had the benefit of a third minute penalty, put away by Matty Sykes after Stevens was ruled to have fouled Liam Theakstone as the pair went up together for a high ball in the six yard box.
But the lead lasted only four minutes before Josh Greening equalised, then Adam Baker put the visitors ahead on 36.
Tadcaster had deserved to be in front at the break, but Rainworth moved up a couple of notches in the second half, only to come up against the inspired Stevens.
And their profligacy cost them again in the 61st minute when Greening notched his second and Taddy’s third.
Rainworth could hardly have made a better start than that penalty goal, but the vociferous Tadcaster following were demanding a spot kick of their own three minutes later when Brad Wilson got in a superb challenge on James Beadle in the home area.
The referee was rightly having none of it, but those fans were even more noisy just seconds later when the ball was threaded through a crowded area for Greening to stab it past Sam Leigh.
With the wind and the increasingly driving rain at their backs the visitors began to call the tune more, and there was relief for the home side when Leigh’s attempted kick clear rebounded off Greening in the area and, fortunately, flew behind for a goal kick.
And when Conor Sellars’ industry kept the ball in play on the by-line to put over a cross on 26, Baker’s attempt from 18 yards was not a lot too high.
It was not all one way traffic though, and Stevens gave a foretaste of his second half performance when, at full stretch, he tipped aside a rasping drive by Connor Smythe in the 28th minute.
But Tadcaster’s first half superiority brought its reward on 36. Leigh called for and came for a cross from the right which appeared to take a slight deflection out of his reach, leaving Baker with a simple tap in.
With the teeming rain driving into their faces, the home side will have been relieved that both Baker and Greening missed good chances at the end of the half, to keep the deficit to just the one goal.
Rainworth began the second half much brighter, with Stevens saving at Theakstone’s feet and then both Matt Thompson and Theakstone could not quite get enough onto the ball to find a telling touch in the six yard box.
But, once again, the Wrens were too guilty too often of gifting possession, and Tadcaster capitalised in the 61st minute when, with the defence and keeper struggling to clear, Greening’s persistence in the box enabled him to poach a third goal for the visitors.
Rainworth refused to let their heads drop, and a double substitution which saw the introduction of Jack Barnett and Declan Brewin injected a fresh lease of life into their play.
Brewin soon proved to be a handful for the Albion defence,and it was his wickedly dipping 20-yard effort which brought a magnificent tip over by Stevens, who followed that up with another save of matching quality to deny Sykes’ guided missile.
Leigh showed his prowess at the other end to deny Greening his hat-trick, before Stevens again thwarted Theakstone at point blank range.
Hearts were still in mouths as Tadcaster countered, but the Wrens succeeded in shutting them out with bodies behind the ball, although Leigh scared the home fans again on 89 with another miscued clearance which this time went behind off Beadle.
Despite their losing run continuing, Rainworth should certainly not be downhearted by their performance against a side which should be playing Evo-Stik League football next season, and which deserved some reward. The points may have gone back up the A1 into Yorkshire, but Tadcaster certainly knew they had been in a game, and they knew who had been the hero of their hour.
RAINWORTH: Leigh, Hanson, Smythe, Wilson, R. Edridge (Brewin 70), Plant, York (Barnett 70), Nelthorpe, Theakstone, Thompson, Sykes. Subs not used: Andrews, C. Widdowson, Townsend.
THACKLEY: Stevens, Armstrong, Ormsby, Milne, Anderson, Mycoe, Sellars (Clayton 76), Jonathan Greening, Beadle, Josh Greening, Baker.
Subs not used: Stewart, Black, Barrett, Heath.
REFEREE: Richard Eley (Derbyshire). ATTENDANCE: 115
WRENS MAN OF THE MATCH: Liam Theakstone.
NB: Pictures by Derek Bentley will be added later