Inspired Wrens take another step towards safety
Evo-Stik League League Division I South
Rainworth MW 3 Rushall Olympic 1
Report by Gordon Foster
RAINWORTH came up with the best possible response to the weekend’s turmoil to end a run of four defeats with a magnificent victory over lively Play-off chasers Rushall Olympic.
The club had been beset by rumours and claims, counter-rumours and counter-claims about the position of manager Billy Millar.
But with Millar back in the dugout the Wrens’ players dug deep to turn in one of their best performances of the season in his support, to avenge a 2-0 defeat at Dales Lane 10 days earlier.
It was a result which probably all but ended any lingering relegation fears, as Rainworth moved 11 points clear of the bottom two.
Rushall probably went home wondering how they had lost a game in which they had probably shaded overall possession, but the answer came in three brilliantly taken goals deserving of a much bigger audience than the 93 watching spectators, from Danny Naylor, Rob Paling and Stef Frost.
Naylor lashed home as the first half approached added time, but Danny Lennon, who had stood out in the fixture at Rushall, came up with a 64th minute equaliser.
However, Rob Paling, who seems to get better and better with every match, curled in a real beauty from the left touchline 14 minutes later.
And, with Rushall becoming increasingly frustrated as they pushed on in search of an equaliser, they were hit on the counter in stoppage time and Stef Frost made the points safe.
Rainworth, whose recent losing run had been down to their failure to score goals, included new forward Danwell Francis from Hucknall Town for his debut, and experimented with Lee Cooksey alongside him, Stef Frost returning to the starting 11 but in midfield, and Max Wright also back in for the injured Kyle Gee-Pemberton.
Rushall were quickly out of the traps at the start, with Wright winning the ball but then miscuing a pass to Lennon whose wild finish was high and wide.
But Naylor sounded a warning of what was to follow from him with a fourth minute 25-yard screamer which keeper Chris Gemmell was relieved to block before the ball was turned for a corner, from which Craig Charlesworth’s back post header went wide.
As the game showed early signs of developing into a compelling contest with the pace of Lennon and Ahmed Obeng keeping the home defence very much on its toes, Christian Dacres drilled a low 25-yard effort narrowly wide for the visitors, before Mark Hales saved Matt Lewis’ 30-yard free kick at his post in the 14th minute.
Rainworth were having to defend in some depth, getting bodies behind the ball as Rushall came at them, and hearts were in mouths when Obeng broke clear and slid the ball past the advancing Hales, but Charlesworth had dropped back well to clear.
Rushall were appealing for a 36th minute penalty as Hales left his line to push away from Obeng who went down, but Mr Cook was having none of it, and when Francis hit on the counter attack down the flank no-one was on hand to meet his low cross into the six yard box.
Rainworth survived a couple of corners as the Pics continued to peg them back for long spells, but it was the Wrens who grabbed a 45th minute lead with Naylor’s tremendous left foot volley rounding off Matt Baxter’s persistent work on the right to supply the cross.
And in added time Wright was close to a second goal, aiming marginally too high from a free kick just outside the area.
The second half began with play largely confined to midfield, Rainworth living well with their Play-off chasing visitors.
But just for once they came unstuck in the 64th minute when Lennon was found in too much space in the area out of nothing, to fire into the bottom corner.
Unfazed, Rainworth tried to hit straight back, but another typically fast counter-attack involving Obeng and Lewis ended with Hales first saving from Richard Blythe and then from Obeng.
Paling was on hand to again clear his lines as Rushall began to sniff a second goal, but when it came it was in the Wrens’ favour. Paling cut in just a couple of paces from the left touchline some 25 yards from the by-line and curled a dream of a shot into the top far corner. If Naylor’s earlier strike had been a ‘goal of the season’ candidate this one outdid even that.
An air of desperation began to creep into Rushall’s play as the sensed their Play-off hopes slipping away, and Obeng drew the ironic cheers of the home fans when he chipped over Hales but also over the bar.
Rainworth, meanwhile, had visibly grown in stature, and Mitchell Tolley was relieved to clear for a corner when Frost tried to play in substitute Nick Langford. The corner was only half-cleared, and the ever-influential Mark Camm pounced to go just wide from 22 yards.
However, the points were made safe when Langford crossed deep from the left and Frost bulged the roof of the net with another great strike from an acute angle in the second of six added minutes.
For Rainworth the back four of Baxter, Charlesworth, Tommy Hannigan and Paling had given almost nothing away, Camm, Frost, Naylor and Wright competed well in midfield, and Francis showed some promise up front until he was withdrawn, with Cooksey also doing well in a holding role, and behind them all Hales was as reliable as ever.
RAINWORTH: Hales, Baxter, Paling, Charlesworth, Hannigan, Camm, Frost, Naylor (Langford 81), Cooksey, Francis (Hewitt 62), Wright. Subs not used: Alberry, Law.
RUSHALL: Gemmell, Spittle, Smith, Tolley, Ashton, Platt, Dacres (Brown ht), Blythe, Lewis, Obeng, Lennon. Subs not used: Fitzpatrick, Amos, Beckett, O’Kelly.
REFEREE: Steve Cook of Bargate, Belper.
GOALS: Rainworth—Naylor 454; Paling 78; Frost 90+2. Rushall—Lennon 64.
MEN OF THE MATCH: Rainworth and overall—Rob Paling. Rushall—Danny Lennon.