Carolan so unlucky as Wrens have to settle for point
Evo-Stik League Division I South
Stamford 0 Rainworth MW 0
Report by Gordon Foster
RAINWORTH came within a rattling crossbar of the victory they needed to keep themselves in with a chance of overhauling Stamford, but had to settle for a goalless draw at the Vic Couzens Stadium.
A win would have hauled them level on points with the Daniels, and then all that would have been needed on Monday would have been to do better at home to Glapwell than Stamford do at newly crowned champions Barwell.
As it is, the Wrens can still draw level on points but Stamford have such a vastly superior goal difference that Rainworth cannot go above them.
They can still move up one place, but only if they beat Glapwell on Monday while Market Drayton lose at home to Loughborough.
But, as one of the two targets from the final two games, that of improving the league position, edge further away, the 40-point goal will be achieved on Monday provided that the Wrens do not lose.
The match at Stamford bore all the hallmarks of the end of a hard season for both sides, and there was not a lot to excite the crowd.
Indeed the nearest thing to a decider came in the 76th minute when Ryan Carolan cut in from the left to unleash a tremendous angled shot which beat home keeper Chris Wright but rattled his crossbar—it was probably still vibrating at the final whistle, such was the force of the shot.
But, as they say, a miss is as good as a mile, and both sides had to be content with a point.
Rainworth opted to play defender Barry Alberry in goal with Mark Hales not daring to risk injury on the eve of his wedding, and while Alberry did everything that was asked of him confidently he was never really unduly stretched.
Carolan and Lee Briggs seemed to hit on a great understanding on the left side, with Briggs always ready to drop back to cover from midfield whenever Carolan pushed forward.
Tigerish midfielder Danny Naylor returned to the side after a six-match lay-off, and Tommy Hannigan was passed fit after missing the midweek defeat at Romulus through a back injury.
Meanwhile also back from injury was Rob Paling as the Wrens sent out a stronger side than had been anticipated.
The balance of play slightly favoured Rainworth in the first half and Stamford in the second, but it was the Wrens who created the better chances throughout.
But not for the first time the cutting edge that has eluded them so often went AWOL again, with home skipper Miles Chamberlain marshalling his defence well..
The Wrens had a glorious chance to take the lead in the third minute when Kyle Gee-Pemberton’s accurate cross pinpointed Briggs in the area, but the youngster was unable to make any worthwhile connection with the goal gaping.
Stamford’s first chance came from Andy Toyne’s 25-yard free kick which flew over the bar in the 10th minute, and Alberry’s first touch of the ball was to retrieve it.
Lee Cooksey went close from Naylor’s neat lay-off in the 16th minute, and Stamford were grateful to keeper Wright a minute later, the keeper making a sprawling tip around the post after Gee-Pemberton had cut into the area from the left and aimed his shot for the bottom near post corner.
Matt Baxter fizzed a 25-yard volley wide in the 27th minute. However, Stamford did not create anything against a resolute defence until the 33rd minute when Adam Millson’s forward ball fed Ryan Oliver, who outpaced Fearon but, as Alberry advanced, poked wide.
As half time approached Lee Cooksey for Rainworth and Danny Cotton for Stamford both shot straight at the respective keepers.
With Fearon not appearing for the second half after sustaining a groin strain, Rainworth had a scare three minutes in when his again impressive centre-back partner Hannigan had to go off for treatment after overstretching as he broke up a home foray in the area, but he was able to play on.
And hearts were in mouths again when Briggs made a rare error, his under-hit back pass selling Alberry short—fortunately the stand-in keeper just managed to turn it for a corner.
Naylor volleyed hurriedly too high in the 67th minute following good work by substitute Max Wright and Cooksey.
But the band of travelling fans were momentarily on their feet nine minutes later, when Carolan was denied the goal he deserved by the crossbar.
And the miss might have proved costly in the 83rd minute when Cotton had a clear chance for Stamford but somehow missed the target.
STAMFORD: C. Wright, Cook, Jackson, Toyne, Chamberlain, Parker, Sedgemore (Evans 68), Frecklington (Millson 27), R. Olover, D. Oliver (Deane 35), Cotton. Subs not used: Burkett, Hill.
RAINWORTH: Alberry, Paling, Carolan, Fearon (Hewitt ht), Hannigan, Camm, Naylor (Topliss 81), Baxter, Cooksey, Gee-Pemberton (M. Wright 66), Briggs. Sub not used: Drake.
REFEREE: John Brooks of Melton Mowbray.
MEN OF THE MATCH: Rainworth and overall—Ryan Carolan; Stamford—Miles Chamberlain.