Wrens stunned by late penalty
Evo-Stik League Division I South
Rainworth MW 1 Sutton Coldfield Town 2
Report by Les Lee
RAINWORTH felt the force of football’s habit of kicking you when you are down at Kirklington Road on Saturday.
With five minutes remaining and the score locked at 1-1 Stef Frost’s delightful chip shot beat Royals keeper Karl Lewis but came back off the far post and substitute Chris Hewitt lifted the rebound over the bar.
And then, having survived that scare, the Play-off chasing West Midlanders notched the winner from Craig Marshall’s 89th minute penalty to go home with the three points and leave the Wrens still needing two to ensure the safety which is already theirs in all but mathematical terms.
It was a cruel blow for Rainworth, who looked a far better outfit than that which suffered a 5-1 thrashing on a cold Monday night at Sutton back in January.
Marshall had cancelled out Rainworth’s 1-0 interval lead with a goal three minutes into the re-start, this after Matt Baxter had put the Wrens ahead from the spot in the 34th minute.
Baxter was a surprise inclusion in the side, having appeared to have tweaked a hamstring a week earlier, but returned to his more accustomed role in midfield, having previously filled in in defence for the injured Ryan Carolan, who made his first start since his recovery.
Meanwhile Nick Langford was preferred up front, getting the nod ahead of Danwell Francis.
The visitors were the more prominent in early play, and Tommy Hannigan twice tidied up for the home side, first from a corner and then from a threatening run by Stuart McNaught.
But it was not until the 18th minute that the spectators saw a decent goal attempt, Marshall’s strong angled effort from the right edge of the area flashing beyond the far post.
Rainworth threatened for the first time in the 25th minute, Lee Cooksey working well along the left to cross to Baxter, who saw his shot blocked and cleared.
Max Wright then sent a long range effort wide before Hannigan again stood out in the home defence to end another sortie from the visitors, then Mark Hales denied Mark Bellingham with a fine save.
But the game turned just after the half hour. First, in the 33rd minute, Lewis brilliantly saved from Frost, whose shot was destined for the top corner until the keeper clawed it for a corner. Then McNaught was harried into handling from the ensuing flag kick, and Baxter confidently slotted the penalty.
There was a scare for the Wrens, though, in the 43rd minute when Hales dropped Hannigan’s back header, fortunately Hannigan recovered to clear.
And, as the first half entered added time, Brendon Kelly headed wide from the second of two successive corners for Sutton Coldfield.
Rainworth were happy to be carrying the lead into the interval, but within three minutes of the restart they had surrendered it. Marshall turned marker Charlesworth and guided the ball out of the outstretched Hales’ reach .
Buoyed by the equaliser, the Royals began to up the pace and Nick Dodd advanced down the right to angle his cross-shot too high.
And with the Wrens coming under a spell of intense pressure Hales brilliantly diverted Marshall’s 18-yard screamer for a corner.
Chris Hewitt, who had replaced cold victim Nick Langford at half time, posed a threat along the right for Rainworth in the 73rd minute, but showed Lewis too much of the ball and the keeper collected it safely.
It was a brief respite though, as the visitors, inspired by the always industrious Craig Owen, went looking for the win they needed to keep them in the Play-off mix, but Rainworth competed well and it was so nearly they who grabbed a goal in the 85th minute.
Frost, who had scored four goals in his last three games, thought he had made it five in four when he broke though and, as Lewis advanced, chipped over the keeper only to see the ball agonisingly come back off the far post.
And Sutton exacted the maximum punishment for the miss in the 89th minute. Charlesworth was unable to clear the ball in the area under pressure from Marshall and, as it broke, Hannigan went to chest it, but it grazed against his arm. The defender was harshly booked for hands, and Marshall dispatched the spot kick to send the visitors home happy and heap more frustration on the home side.
RAINWORTH: Hales, Paling, Carolan (Briggs 77), Charlesworth, Hannigan, Camm, Frost, Baxter, Cooksey, Langford (Hewitt ht), Wright (Francis 80). Subs not used: Topliss, Drake.
SUTTON COLDFIELD: Lewis, N. Dodd, Jackson (Miller ht), McNaught, Booth, Kelly, M. Dodd, Owen, Marshall, Bellingham (Harris 72), Quiggin. Subs not used: Milligan, Pinto, Taylor.
REFEREE: Alexander Harvey of West Bridgford.
GOALS: Rainworth—Baxter 34 pen. Sutton—Marshall 48, 89 pen.
MEN OF THE MATCH: Rainworth—Tommy Hannigan. Sutton and overall—Craig Owen.