The boy Danwell dun well
Evo-Stik League Division I South
Grantham Town 1 Rainworth MW 3
Report by Gordon Foster
Danwell Francis struck twice in the second half at the South Kesteven Stadium on Saturday with his first goals for Rainworth, to earn the Wrens three points which finally made their place in the Evo-Stik League next season mathematically certain.
It was a massive win for the under strength visitors, especially as relegation rivals Shepshed picked up a rare win at Glapwell, but in the event all that meant was that Dynamo saw their own demotion confirmed on a winning note.
The buzz cliché these days seems to be ‘sometimes you have to win ugly’, and indeed this match was far from a classic. We saw little of the good football that Rainworth have shown they can play lately, but what we did see was a display of guts and determination on the ground of a club still gunning for the Play-offs.
Last time Rainworth played a match at Grantham it was an FA Cup tie back in 1934 when they fell to their club record 13-0 defeat, which also remains the Gingerbreads’ record win to this day.
More recently Grantham escaped from Rainworth with a 2-1 win a few weeks ago in a match where the Wrens were unlucky not to take any reward.
But on this occasion, whether the Play-off pressure got to them or not, Grantham turned in an edgy, jittery performance. And although they saw more of the ball they rarely created a clear cut chance.
With a still hefty injury list and, having lost striker Stef Frost to Conference North promotion hopefuls Boston United, few Wrens fans would have expected anything from this match.
But Kyle Gee-Pemberton fired their favourites into a seventh minute lead which Rainworth held until just before the interval when Clipstone lad Matt Millns pounced on a goalkeeping error to equalise.
They say that just before half time is a good psychological time to score, but although Grantham continued to have the greater possession they were unable to build on it as the Wrens’ defence remained massive under pressure with Tommy Hannigan again outstanding. And Francis capitalised on excellent work by first Mark Camm and then Chris Hewitt to kill off the challenge of the home side.
With Ryan Carolan out Lee Briggs was given his starting debut at left back, Hewitt was handed a wide role with Gee-Pemberton and Francis up front following Frost’s departure.
But any pre-match pessimism on the part of Rainworth’s travelling supporters was tempered by the sight of Danny Simpson on the bench after a six-week injury lay-off.
Grantham began on top and skipper Ben Saunders missed a real sitter at the near post from Sam Purcicoe’s cross in the fifth minute.
That was to be their only real chance of the first half until their equaliser, for it was Rainworth who drew first blood in the seventh minute. A ‘highest today’ attempted clearance from the home area dropped to Lee Cooksey who prodded the ball across for Gee-Pemberton to volley home.
Two minutes later Rob Paling was perhaps a touch fortunate not to concede a penalty for an apparent push, but for the rest of the half Grantham huffed and puffed but could not blow the house down.
Indeed, despite playing second fiddle in terms of possession, it was Rainworth who continued to create the better chances, the best of which came in the 17th minute. Mark Hales rolled the ball out to Gee-Pemberton who broke to set up Francis—but Rob Murray got his body in the way of the shot and, when Francis followed up, he again blocked, this time with his legs.
Ben Saunders again failed to manage a worthwhile touch onto Lee Potts’ centre into the six yard box, before Francis fizzed another crisp shot just wide for Rainworth.
Towards the end of the half the Wrens defence seemed to be living increasingly dangerously, and they paid the price as the half entered added time. Former Stags player Alistair Asher floated a free kick from the right into the area, Hales went to punch the ball but got nothing on it in a crowded area where he may have been impeded by his own defenders, and Millns was there to bundle the ball over the line.
The second half was slow to get going, but Sam Saunders’ effort from a half-cleared corner struck Rob Paling and went to safety as Briggs lay injured in the net.
But on a day when the overall action failed to excite, the biggest cheer came in the 57th minute when, following a clash of heads on the far side from the dug-outs, Wrens’ Kelly Beswick easily won the race to the injured players against her Grantham counterpart, with both sets of fans loudly cheering on their own physio.
Five minutes later Rainworth regained the lead. Mark Camm embarked on a driving run through the middle and, as he appeared to be upended, he managed to push the ball on for Francis to slot past the advancing Murray.
The lead was in danger in the 65th minute though when referee Mr Smith awarded Grantham a disputed free kick on the edge of the Rainworth box after Briggs had looked to have won the ball cleanly. However, Craig Charlesworth was well behind the direct shot to clear to safety.
Hannigan made another vital interception to end a threat from home substitutes Matt Glass and Rob Norris, and then did well to block after the ball had fallen kindly off Camm for Phil Watt to try his luck.
But the points were put beyond the home side in the 79th minute when Hewitt’s sheer persistence in chasing and over-stretching for an apparent lost cause kept the ball in on the by-line. It cost him an injury which ended his afternoon’s work, but he managed to pull the ball back for Francis to drill home.
GRANTHAM: Murray, Purcicoe (Norris 64), Potts, Asher, Millns (Glarvey 82), Watt, Lewis, S. Saunders, McGhee, B. Saunders, Carchedi (Glass 64). Subs not used: Dyson, Beardsley.
RAINWORTH: Hales, Paling, Briggs, Charlesworth, Hannigan, Camm, Wright (Simpson 67), Cooksey, Gee-Pemberton, Francis (Langford 90+2), Hewitt (Topliss 79). Sub not used: Wilkinson.
REFERREE: Nigel Smith of Chesterfield.
GOALS: Grantham—Millns 45. Rainworth—Gee-Pemberton 7; Francis 62, 79.
MEN OF THE MATCH: Rainworth and overall—Tommy Hannigan. Grantham—Matt Millns.