Lack lustre Wrens roll over
Evo-Stick League Division One South
Rainworth MW 0 Belper Town 2
Report by Gordon Foster
LACK lustre Rainworth rolled over and allowed Belper Town to go home with three comfortable points in this disappointing local derby performance and defeat.
Even manager Rudy Funk, who will normally brook no negativity, admitted afterwards that he could find nothing positive on which to reflect.
Funk accused some of his players of still living six months in the past, and insisted that it was high time some of them realised that they are in a higher league now and responded to the challenge.
As it was, a goal in each half was enough to sink Rainworth who, frankly, appeared to have given up long before the end.
If there is one positive to be gleaned, it is that attendances at Kirklington Road are well up on last season’s successful NCEL campaign.
But many more displays like this one will see their new found and welcome support disappear as quickly as they came.
Received wisdom is that this is a strong, hard league, in which strong, hard teams will prosper.
Few would have disputed that this description fits Rainworth, but for some reason best known to the players themselves it certainly did not manifest itself against the Nailers.
To put some mitigating circumstances into the equation, Rainworth remain heavily hit by injuries to key players, and Funk commented ruefully that he could almost have fielded a ‘Walking Wounded XI’. He could have named two substitutes for such a side by the end, too, for by then both Brendan Sweeney and Matt Baxter had joined up.
Belper were soon showing their paces, and Matt Draper relieved some early pressure by conceding a corner with less than two minutes gone.
In reply, Sweeney picked out Jermain Hollis on the overlap, and the wing back rifled in a low cross which just our of the reach of Dennis Simms.
At this stage the Wrens were looking bright, and Mark Barnard was harried into fouling Simms to snuff out a neat interchange with Hollis. The free kick was only half cleared to Mitchell, whose terrific goalbound shot struck team mate Barry Alberry and was cleared.
Belper’s first real chance came in the 19th minute when Jon Froggatt released Daryll Thomas , who turned past Matt Draper only to aim well wide of the far post.
Hollis, on the day just edged out for Rainworth’s man of the match by Craig Charlesworth, showed his willingness to chase a lost cause and won a race for possession with Lee Thompson, but when he slipped the ball to Simms the new boy was crowded out before he could get in a telling shot.
And more good work by Hollis set up Sweeney to bring a diving save out of Alessandro Barcherini.
However, it was the Nailers who took a 29th minute lead in somewhat controversial circumstances. Ruben Wiggins-Thomas won a free kick but had looked clearly to be backing in. The free kick was knocked deep to Froggatt who laid it back for Luke Gedorenko to curl a delightful shot under the far angle from just inside the area.
Rainworth hit back and three minutes later Mitchell cut in from the right, Barcherini advanced and was caught in no man’s land, but Mitchell’s rather weak shot was cleared off the line by Matthew Plant, and Sweeney’s blistering follow-up just cleared the bar.
And then a minute later Barcherini superbly tipped over Mitchells’ close range header onto Danny Bainbridge’s free kick.
After the break Belper carried the game more to their hosts, and the Wrens’ defence was given a searching examination, with Charlesworth holding things together well.
But the visitors gained their reward in the 59th minute. Thomas received a long throw down the left and turned it infield for Wiggins-Thomas to turn and steer it in at the far post.
The goal seemed to knock the stuffing out of Rainworth who never looked like clawing their way back, although soon afterwards Mitchell’s rising 30-yarder was deflected just over the bar.
Mark Hales made a superb one on one save from Thomas following a fast break after a home free kick move broke down.
Sweeney limped off after being clattered into in the 66th minute, and five minutes later Baxter suffered a cut head in another challenge.
It was almost all Belper thereafter, Hales denying Froggatt with another diving save, and Barnard’s vicious 35-yard volley flashing just over the bar.
But the game ended amid acrimony following a foul by Mitchell which sparked a mass brawl. The referee, who it must be said had not had the best of afternoons, completely lost control of the situation but booked Mitchell and Belper’s Nicky Darker amid claims of mistaken identity.
RAINWORTH: Hales, Hollis, Bainbridge, Alberry, Charledworth, Draper, Baxter (Hunt 71), M. Hewitt (Moxam 63), Mitchell, Simms, Sweeney (Fearon 66). Subs not used: Topliss, Dobbs.
SHEFFIELD: Barcherini, Pride, Barnard, Darker, Adams, Plant, Wiggins-Thomas, Thompson, Froggatt, Thomas (Wood 82), Fedorenko. Subs not used: Peel, Warren, Laight, Rushbury.
REFEREE: Chris Marsden of Cropston, Leicester.
WRENS MAN OF THE MATCH: Craig Charlesworth.