Wrens Battle for the points at Leek
RAINWORTH rode hosts Leek Town’s late onslaught to record their second win of the season and leave their once mighty hosts still seeking their first.
Evo-Stik League Division I South
Leek Town 2 Rainworth 3
Report by Les Lee
The Blues’ Harrison Park was always a happy hunting ground for Wrens’ boss Rudy Funk in the days when he assisted at Eastwood Town, and his latest raid on his old adversaries’ home brought him three more priceless points to end his current side’s recent barren spell.
Julian Topliss and Craig Mitchell fired Rainworth into a 2-0 lead but Rob Hawthorne pulled one back for Leek right on half time. Ryan Carolan re-instated the visitor’s two goal advantage in the second half, but as Leek strove to salvage something from the match Mark Hales saved former Mansfield favourite Wayne Corden’s spot kick.
And although Dan Cope did get a goal back in the 87th minute resilient Rainworth held on to take maximum points.
In the opening five minutes Leek carried the game to Welfare, forcing three corners in quick succession before Hales finally collected Steve Day’s probing centre.
But it was the Wrens who grabbed an eighth minute advantage from their first attack. Craig Mitchell’s pinpoint pass from the left picked out Topliss on the far side of the area, and he made no mistake with his low drive into the far corner.
Two minutes later Topliss might have struck again from Brendan Sweeney’s incisive pass, and keeper Stuart Heeps had to be smartly off his line to clear.
Hales made a rare mistake on the quarter-hour mark missing his punch, but the dominant figure of Craig Charlesworth managed to scramble the ball for a fruitless corner.
Five minutes later Day failed to hit the target from just outside the six yard box, while at the other end Danny Naylor went close from Topliss’ cross on the half-hour.
Two minutes on, Rainworth should have doubled their lead. Charlesworth’s neat through pass found Mitchell clear in the area. He drew the keeper, and only needed to square to the unmarked Topliss, but opted to shoot and Heeps was able to smother the effort.
Topliss was caught just offside following good work by Mitchell before Leek won another succession of corners, Barry Alberry finally clearing the danger.
The Wrens doubled their advantage in the 44th minute. Topliss made a spirited run on the right, rounded his man and crossed for Mitchell to head home.
But the two goal cushion lasted only a matter of seconds as the Wrens defence, not for the first time this season, criminally switched off just before half time. The unmarked Corden received the ball on the left, and he rounded Jermain Hollis before hitting a low cross into the area. It rebounded off a defender and fell kindly to Hawthorne who took his chance to halve the deficit.
The injured Naylor made way for Andy Jones for the second half, which Leek began well, Hales tipping the ball onto his bar from half time substitute Leon Ashman’s 30-yard pot shot.
Then Heeps’ long clearance put Rainworth in trouble when Alberry’s back pass fell short of Hales, but the Wrens’ defence managed to scramble the ball away.
Lewis Jackson was just wide with a direct free kick for the visitors after Carolan was brought down, but Rainworth had better luck in the 74th minute. Hales’ long free kick from the right put Mitchell clear down the flank. His cross found Carolan who crashed the ball into the net from inside the six yard box.
Five minutes later a long throw in caused havoc in the Rainworth box, and although the ball was eventually cleared Mr Cook penalised Matt Draper for an apparent push. Corden stepped up and hit his spot kick to the right but Hales made a comfortable save.
However, the Blues grabbed a lifeline three minutes from time when a long free kick from the half way line into the area found its way through all the defence, falling to Cope for a simple tap in.
Leek threw everything at the visitors in the remaining minutes, and Ashman might have equalised in the final moments when his angled shot flew over the bar, but other than that the defence held out well to claim a much needed victory.
LEEK: Heeps, M. Johnson, Shenton (Rutter 69), Taylor, Allen, Miller (Robinson 76), France, Hawthorne, Day (Ashman ht), Cope, Corden. Subs not used: P. Johnson, W. Johnson.
RAINWORTH: Hales, Carolan, Hollis, Alberry, Charlesworth, Draper, Jackson, Naylor (Jones ht), Mitchell, Topliss (Pickess 68), Sweeney. Subs not used: Hunt, Bainbridge, Dobbs.
REFEREE: Steve Cook of Bargate, Belper.
GOALS: Leek—Hawthorne 45; Cope 87. Rainworth—Topliss 8; Mitchell 44; Carolan 74.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Craig Charlesworth.