Rushall 'Pic' off toothless Rainworth
Evo-Stik League Division One South
Rushall Olympic 2 Rainworth MW 0
Report by Gordon Foster
FOR the third match in a row Rainworth showed they had the ability to live with Division One South’s Play-off chasing clubs.
And, also for the third time in a row, their lack of a cutting edge left them without a point or a goal to show for their efforts.
Hosts Rushall Olympic had gone into this game with four defeats from their previous five outings, but goals five minutes from the start and the end worked the oracle for them and condemned Rainworth to a third successive defeat following the recent upturn in their results.
Manager Billy Millar must wonder whether he will ever have a full squad to choose from as once again he saw his troops depleted by injury and unavailability.
The Wrens boss was forced into three changes from the side which lost by the same score in last Tuesday’s local derby at Glapwell, also to an early and a late goal. With Barry Alberry working, Lee Cooksey sitting an exam, and Nick Langford ill, in came Alex Wilford at centre back for his first appearance since rejoining from Ollerton Town in December, Danny Naylor in midfield, and Stef Frost partnering Chris Hewitt up front.
Continuing rain made the pitch increasingly difficult as the game went on, and certainly had its effect on the entertainment value.
But for all their efforts Rainworth had only one quality opening throughout the 90 minutes, when home keeper Chris Gemmell came into his own.
The Wrens began playing downhill on a fairly significant slope, but were slow to get going and, after Chris Morris’ third minute header wide from Grant Beckett’s deep cross, the Pics gave themselves an early boost with a fifth minute opening goal.
Danny Lennon broke along the right and his low cross was swept in at the near post by Matt Lewis.
It was a soft goal, and just the start that Rainworth did not need, but although they began to play the ball around well at times they lacked any sharp edge to undo a home defence which gave nothing away.
Lewis threatened again in the 15th minute, outpacing Wilford, but Rob Paling was across his box smartly to end the danger with a superbly timed challenge—any mistake would have brought a cast iron penalty.
The game descended into the first of a number of spells of unproductive midfield action, although Mark Hales was forced to punch clear one handed Christian Dacres’ free kick.
Rainworth finally extended Gemmell in the 31st minute. Naylor won possession and hit a stinging drive which the keeper dived to parry, and when Kyle Gee-Pemberton followed up with another goalbound drive the recovering keeper somehow managed to get his legs in the way and divert it for a corner with an unorthodox save.
The ensuing flag kick flew through the six yard area without a touch, and in the aftermath Naylor picked up a booking for what appeared a retaliation, although the free kick went Rushall’s way.
Chris Morris’ persistence won him the ball in the 38th minute despite the attentions of the again otherwise excellent defenders Paling and Tommy Hannigan, but his finish was well off target, and two minutes later Dacres’ effort from Lewis’ lay-off was straight at Hales.
For the second half Rainworth went for the bustle of Craig Mitchell up front instead of the trickery of Hewitt who had found little joy against a towering defence.
The pitch was looking increasingly treacherous, and when Hannigan’s slip let in Morris the Pics’ striker aimed too high from the edge of the area.
Paling’s precise pass set up the industrious Mark Camm with a half-chance on the hour but his shot was past the post, and then five minutes later Mitchell scuffed his 25-yarder wide also.
Naylor saw a spearing drive destined for the bottom corner take a cruel deflection for another flag kick in the 67th minute before another 15 minutes of midfield containment by both sides.
Millar gambled seven minutes from time, withdrawing defender Wilford who had made a promising first appearance back, and sending on Julian Topliss in the hope that his pace might be the key to unlocking the home side.
It was a gamble worth the taking, but it backfired, for two minutes later the Wrens’ defence appeared to open up as Stef Frost, digging out at the back, failed to clear what looked comfortably to be his ball, and the livewire Lennon exacted the full punishment with an easy goal from inside the area.
RUSHALL: Gemmell, Smith, Spittle, Tolley, Platt, Beckett, Dacres, Blythe, Lewis, Miorris (Sterling 83), Lennon. Subs not used: Amos, Fitzpatrick, Barrow, Maguire.
RAINWORTH: Hales, Baxter, Paling, Wilford (Topliss 83), Hannigan, Camm, Wright, Naylor, Hewitt (Mitchell ht), Frost, Gee-Pemberton (Law 71). Subs not used: Jackson, Carolan.
REFEREE: D. Gratton of Dudley.
GOALS: Rushall—Lewis 5; Lennon 85.
MEN OF THE MATCH: Rainworth—Rob Paling. Rushall and overall—Danny Lennon.