Wrens shot down by Thompson trio
Evo-Stik League Division I South
Newcastle Town 4 Rainworth MW 1
Report by Gordon Foster
NEVILLE Thompson’s hat-trick was the difference as Newcastle Town comfortably preserved their unbeaten league record on New Year Monday.
Rainworth had hoped that the ‘after the Lord Mayor’s Show’ principle would work in their favour as Castle went into the match on the back of Saturday’s thumping 8-1 away win at Market Drayton.
But instead the celebrated jinx worked on the Wrens who had impressed against high flying Carlton on Saturday but were very much second best at Lyme Valley Parkway.
Not that Rainworth played badly, far from it, but Newcastle’s passing and movement off the ball was in another class, and it was easy to see why they have not yet lost a league match this season.
Newcastle capitalised on what appeared a refereeing error when Thompson gaved them a 34th minute lead, and then Daniel Skelton doubled the Town advantage six minutes later, when keeper Mark Hales called and came for the ball but lost the race for possession.
Arguably Rainworth’s best player on the day, Cameron Fearon, drew some reward when he pulled the Wrens right back into contention 10 minutes into the restart as the visitors turned on their own best spell of the contest.
But what appeared a defensive mix-up between two of the three recent signings allowed Thompson to notch his second on the hour.
And Thompson was in the right place at the right time to pounce when Hales made a superb one-handed parry of Chris Budrys’ blistering shot with 15 minutes to go.
Rainworth were forced into throwing new central defender Tommy Hannigan into the starting line-up. Hannigan had only arrived at the end of last week and had not trained with the side, but when Ryan Carolan pulled out through illness the former Alfreton and Hucknall man was handed an unexpected starting shirt.
Despite the scoreline he did more than enough to show what an excellent acquisition he is, but this was a match between a side which has played together for some years against a side undergoing a degree of rebuilding and it showed.
It would be a mistake, though, to read too much into the margin of defeat, for Rainworth gave it their best shot—and they will not be playing sides of this quality every week.
There was little to choose between the sides in the opening stages, indeed Rainworth might have drawn first blood in the sixth minute when Craig Mitchell headed over following fine work by Fearon who supplied a pinpoint centre.
Mark Camm once again stood out as sweeper, but he was lucky not to concede a penalty a minute later when Skelton went down in the area under his challenge—they have been given for less than that.
Craig Charlesworth made two telling headed clearances as Newcastle began to step up the pressure, and Jermain Hollis needed a spectacular diving header to deflect Jordan Johnson’s cross shot for a corner.
As the pressure increased on Rainworth they fell behind in controversial fashion in the 34th minute. Josh Burge was clearly fouled on a counter-attack, but Mr Thornhill waved play on, enabling Andrew White to work the ball down the flank and cross for Thompson to flick in at close range.
Mitchell scooped a decent chance for a Rainworth equaliser over the bar, and instead it was Newcastle who scored again in the 40th minute. Hales was slow off his line after calling for the ball, White won the race and slipped it for Skelton to put away.
With Hollis having tweaked a hamstring Lewis Jackson replaced him for the second half, and as Rainworth went looking to get back into the game Daniel Read thwarted Ant Lynam twice over with a superb double save.
But Lynam turned creator in the 55th minute when, picked out down the left by Jackson, he got to the by-lime and crossed low for Fearon to tap in.
However, Newcastle’s two goal cushion was restored within five minutes when Hannigan and Camm appeared to leave White’s long ball for each other in a misunderstanding between strangers, and Thompson was left with a simple chance.
Hales saved well from the busy Michael Douglas in the 70th minute, but five minutes later the keeper was unlucky when his excellent one-handed parry of Budrys’ shot fell kindly for Thompson to complete his hat-trick and put the points out of Rainworth’s reach, before being immediately withdrawn.
To their credit Billy Millar’s men refused to let their heads drop, and staged a late flurry with Lynam twice going close, but it was not to be the Wrens’ day as, for the first time since Millar and Lee Wilkinson took over, they were well beaten by a better side.
NEWCASTLE: Read, Willis, White, Donnelly, Dicker, Douglas, Johnson (Minor 87), Espley, Budrys, Thompson (Teague 75), Skelton (Sheldon 80). Subs not used: James, Cliffe.
RAINWORTH: Hales, Fearon, Hollis (Jackson ht), Camm, Charlesworth, Hannigan (Alberry 80), Jepson, Roberts, Mitchell (Simms 80), Lynam, Burge. Sub not used: Paling.
REFEREE: James Thornhill of Ilkeston.
GOALS: Newcastle—Thompson 34, 60, 75; Skelton 40. Rainworth—Fearon 55.
MEN OF THE MATCH: Rainworth—Cameron Fearon; Newcastle and overall—Neville Thompson.