Woeful Wrens roll over as alarm bells clang
Evo-Stik League Division I South
Rainworth MW 0 Market Drayton Town 2
Report by Gordon Foster
FOR the second time in four days Rainworth tamely succumbed to the club occupying bottom position in the Evo-Stik League Division One South.
But what was as upsetting as the result for the handful of fans who turned up was the manner of the defeat.
Whether it’s down to dipping confidence after a run of losses or whether it is some other unidentified malaise, too many Rainworth players frankly did not look interested. They let down the club, the fans and most of all themselves.
The Shropshire side had lost their first nine league matches, but had seen an upturn in their results since then—however, despite holding leaders Barwell to a creditable draw on Saturday they returned to the foot of the league by virtue of Rainworth’s humiliating defeat at Shepshed, who were without a win until then.
Now manager Rudy Funk must be asking himself ‘where do we go from here?’ with another match coming up on Saturday against one of the sides in the lower reaches of the league table—in this case Romulus.
But as far as this game went, it was settled by two second half goals, and Town ran out deserving winners.
They were quicker, livelier, had the better ideas, and knocked the ball around far better than the home side, who would have suffered an even more embarrassing scoreline but for a couple of fine stops by Sam Dobbs.
Dobbs got the nod ahead of Mark Hales for the keeper’s jersey, while Craig Charlesworth and Barry Alberry returned to the starting line-up in defence, and forward Jay’Lee Hodgson made his home debut..
The potentially brighter news for Rainworth, though, was the return from injury of last season’s leading scorer Ant Lynam. With only 11 goals scored in 13 league games, it is clear that his prolonged absence has been a key factor, but he did not look fully fit after his lay-off, and Drayton keeper Andrew Pryce was forced into just one worthwhile save.
The first quarter of the match had little to warm the freezing spectators although Drayton looked the livelier side, Dorryl Proffitt sending an early half chance wide.
For Rainworth Lewis Jackson escaped Steve Jagielka’s attentions to pick out Hodgson, whose shot on the turn cannoned to safety off a defender.
Nicky Porter had a couple of chances for the visitors towards the mid-point of the half, sending one effort wide and then being denied again as Dobbs saved with his feet.
Rainworth did not manage a worthwhile goal attempt until the 34th minute, when Hodgson’s attempted flying header did not connect sufficiently well onto Lynam’s angled far post cross.
But Drayton twice wewnt close at the end of the half, Jagielka’s rising shot and Ashley Burd’s 20 yard free kick both just clearing the bar—this after Hodgson had unceremoniously dumped Jagielka to end his surging run through the middle—the new striker received a booking for his pains.
Rainworth had an amazing let off two minutes into the re-start when Nicky Porter’s searing angled drive looked on its way into the far corner, but appeared to cannon to safety off team mate Proffitt.
A minute later Pryce was at last called into action, doing very well to turn the ball over the bar as Lynam swivelled onto Matt Baxter’s cross and hit the ball hard from close range.
Another minute on, Hodgson should have opened the scoring when he flicked the ball past the keeper but also the post.
Alberry made a couple of important interceptions to keep the visitors at bay, but their enterprise was rewarded by a gift goal in the 58th minute. Everyone in defence remained statuesque as Duncan Swann-Horler rose to put away a free header from Burd’s cross.
Pryce tipped Baxter’s close range effort around the post and then tipped away the resulting flag kick in a rare moment of hope for the home side, while at the other end Swann-Horler’s downward header onto another corner dropped wide.
In a bid to rescue something Rainworth changed shape to 4-3-3, sending on Julian Topliss for the strangely out of sorts Cameron Fearon, and Topliss was soon in action sending Hodgson away but, policed by Burd, he could only hit the side netting.
Dobbs spread himself to thwart Will Richards as Drayton went looking to kill the game off, after Burd had intercepted Dennis Simms’ poor pass meant for Baxter and sent his team mate on the way.
Simms scooped Alberry’s knock down of a long throw high over the bar in the 78th minute, but four minutes later Rainworth were authors of their own downfall. Pushing almost everyone forward for a free kick, the Wrens lost out when Alberry uncharacteristically gave the ball away cheaply. Tom Ward broke swiftly down the right and crossed for Martyn Davies to turn the ball home to the delight of the handful of travelling fans.
And, by the end, Rainworth looked a dispirited, demoralised outfit with the joy of the summer’s promotion turning to anguish for the dwindling number of fans who, unless the rot is stopped quickly, only see a return to Northern Counties East League football next season.
RANWORTH: Dobbs, Fearon (Topliss 62), Jackson, Alberry, Charlesworth, Draper, Paling, Baxter, Hodgson (Vickers 74), Lynam (Simms 58), Jepson. Subs not used: McLane, Hales.
MARKET DRAYTON: Pryce, Jagielka, Burd, Swann-Horler, McMullen (Barnett 55), Stallard, Porter (Grice 83), Richards, Davies, Proffitt, Stevenson (Ward 73). Subs not used: Goodhead, Astbury.
REFEREE: James Hermuzi of Woodsetts, Worksop.
WRENS MAN OF THE MATCH: Sam Dobbs.