Last gasp Lynam spot on to preserve a point
Evo-Stik League Division I South
Rainworth MW 2 Carlton Town 2
Report by Gordon Foster
JUSTICE was finally done in the fourth and final minute of stoppage time when Ant Lynam rammed home a penalty to give Rainworth the draw which was the minimum they deserved against promotion-chasing Carlton on New Year’s Day.
Rainworth were the only side in the bottom five of Division One South not to lose, and the point they gained lifted them one place to fourth from bottom, level on points with Leek Town who have a vastly superior goal difference, and above Market Drayton who crashed 8-1 at home to Newcastle Town—ominously the Wrens are due at Newcastle on Monday.
For Carlton, the two points they dropped when former Wren Joe Naylor handled in the penalty area to gift the home side their spot kick equaliser meant they remained in second place, but further adrift from leaders Barwell.
It would have been a travesty, though, had the resurgent Wrens taken nothing from another heart warming display in which they played their best passing football of the season and scored arguably the best goal seen at the Kirklington Road Stadium this campaign.
And, with a little more bite up front, they would surely have provided new managers Billy Millar and Lee Wilkinson with their first win.
It takes some believing that this was only the duo’s third game in charge, but those three matches have seen a transformation in their charges’ heart, belief, commitment and, not least, passing, and it looks only a matter of time before they put their first victory of 2011 on the board.
Once again Mark Camm filled in as sweeper—if ‘filled in’ is the right turn of phrase, for on a day of many fine individual performances his stood out. He won virtually every challenge he put in, got his body in the way when he needed to, and having won possession his distribution was a joy to behold.
When Camm is finally freed up to occupy his preferred midfield role he will surely add another new dimension to a department which has already found a new lease of life under Millar and Wilkinson.
Josh Burge was given his first start, also in midpark, where he also showed what a great signing he is.
Jermain Hollis, recalled to the side, proved a real handful, as did Ryan Carolan, and with players allowed to express themselves with some excellent passing, this really is a new look Rainworth.
As for Carlton, they were never quite at their best, although skipper Ashley Kitchen was always a danger when he got forward, and between them the two sides served up a feast of value for money entertainment for a healthy 134 crowd.
Both of the Millers’ goals came from set pieces, and both left unanswered questions of the otherwise buzzing home side.
Kitchen was gifted a free header onto a free kick in an unlucky 13th minute for the Wrens, and Rainworth old boy Joe Naylor pounced on a weak punch by keeper Mark Hales from another set piece to head into an empty net on 66.
Rainworth, who did not deserve to be trailing 1-0 at the break, came up with a dream of an equaliser five minutes into the restart, Carolan’s accurate deep centre from the left being met on the volley by Jermain Hollis’ unstoppable shot which was still rising as it hit the back of Neil West’s net.
The Wrens refused to let their heads drop when they fell behind again to Naylor’s goal, but it looked as if they were on their way to yet another defeat until Naylor, in a moment of madness, did his former club a good turn with a handling offence, and Lynam’s spot kick would have left a keeper at any level without a prayer.
Kitchen’s opening goal undoubtedly came against the run of play for Rainworth had looked the more likely to break the deadlock until then, although Carlton did serve a warning a minute before the goal when former Wrens favourite Massiah McDonald’s knock down from Kitchen’s pass was well cleared by Matt Roberts.
West saved Carolan’s crisp angled volley at the near post when Rainworth responded, but when Josh Thornton’s cross gave McDonald a chance for the visitors he was quickly closed down by the impeccable Camm.
Burge and Lynam both had shots blocked by a packed Carlton defence, and Craig Mitchell was only a whisker wide with a low drive after more good work by Burge.
The slightly better side of the first half turned round a goal down, but that was rectified within five minutes of the restart by Hollis’ spectacular strike.
Two minutes later Roberts preserved parity with a decisive header away from the near post to deny McDonald.
Carlton’s best spell of the match followed, with Ricky Gardner going close, Camm clearing off the line when Naylor pounced on Hales’ punch, and Antwon Bonnick aiming too high after some fine work by Daniel Fletcher.
This spell culminated in Naylor’s free headed goal after Hales found no power on another attempted punch from Gardner’s free kick.
Carlton, and McDonald in particular, then looked to turn the screw, the striker steering an effort wide and then seeing his direct free kick parried over by Hales after the ex-Wren was brought down by Camm on the edge of the area.
In stoppage time Rainworth failed to profit from two successive corners and the game appeared to have slipped away when Naylor unaccountably handled in the area, Lynam hit the net from the spot, and Rainworth rescued the point they certainly merited.
RAINWORTH: Hales, Fearon, Hollis, Camm, Charlesworth, Carolan, Jepson, Roberts, Mitchell, Lynam, Burge. Subs not used: Alberry, Paling, Topliss, Jackson, Bainbridge.
CARLTON: West, Darkin, Fletcher, Hawkridge (Shaw 56), Kitchen, Hall, Thornton, Naylor, Bonnick, McDonald, Gardner (Hatfield 64). Subs not used: Langford, Troughton, Clarke.
REFEREE: Martin Chester of Lincoln.
GOALS: Rainworth—Hollis 50; Lynam 90+4 pen. Carlton—Kitchen 13; Naylor 66.
MEN OF THE MATCH: Rainworth and overall—Mark Camm. Carlton—Ashley Kitchen.
Pictures by Derek Bentley to follow