Football is a cruel game
The summit is agonisingly close!
Rainworth visited the Clayborn Stadium more in hope than expectation, against an unbeaten Liversedge side, who had pushed title favourites Handsworth Parramore to the very limits the previous Tuesday, having eventually had to settle for a draw.
The travelling fans were even less confident when they learned that the Bank Holiday had reduced the available squad to the bare bones of twelve players, including a couple of youngsters.
At the end of the 90 minutes it was Liversedge who were the more relieved side, having scraped a 2-1 victory after a second half completely dominated by Rainworth.
The early exchanges looked to be going to script with Liversedge having the most of the early play, but only having a couple of corners to show for it.
In the 8th minute Rainworth did threaten when Aaron Moxam broke but his advances were thwarted at the expense of a throw in.
On 10 minutes Liversedge took the lead when the ball found leading scorer Vaughn Redford and his shot from outside the area seemed to catch Liam Kerry flat-footed as it nestled in the far corner.
Some fans feared the worst but it was Rainworth who created the next chance and they almost equalised when Jason Stevens’s header was only gathered at the second attempt by Ben Hunter.
The greasy conditions almost created a second for Liversedge as a couple of Rainworth defenders lost their footing but Daniel Hull’s effort flashed inches past the far upright. A minute later and it was Danny Clarridge’s interception that defused Stephen Wales’s dangerous cross.
Rainworth increased their work rate and started to get back into the game and were starting to cause the Liversedge defence problems.
Clear cut chances for both sides were becoming few and far between and in the 30th minute Joseph Walton’s acrobatic effort was easily gathered by Kerry.
It was Rainworth who had the last chance of the half when Stevens ran at the Liversedge defence, but he delayed the pass and although the ball eventually found Liam Morris the chance was gone.
The second half saw a rejuvenated Rainworth and in the 55th minute they brought on Declan Brewin for Carter Widdowson.
Liversedge still carried a threat and when Walton broke Rainworth were indebted to Rob Ludlam for shepherding him wide and his effort flashed across the goal.
Rainworth nearly equalised in the 62nd minute when Brewin’s long ball was fumbled by Hunter, six inches to the left it would have been a goal fortunately for him it was a corner.
The relief was short lived as Matt Sykes corner was met by Liam Morris and he gave Hunter no chance with the header for the equaliser.
It was now Rainworth on the front foot and Hunter was Liversedge’s saviour when in quick succession he tipped efforts from Sykes and Brewin round the post.
A minute later and only a block on the line prevented Morris from scoring his second header of the game.
On 75 minutes Brewin’s cross found Moxam and Hunter did well to force him wide and the ball was cleared.
Rainworth were now pressing hard, but in the 81st minute they were caught on the break when a long ball out of defence found Wales he pulled the ball back for Harrison Blakey who found the bottom corner of the net.
Rainworth’s pressure was relentless and Hunter did well to beat Moxam to the ball and in the 87th minute a Sykes cross was glanced agonisingly wide of the far post by Phil Buxton with Hunter stranded.
When in the 88th minute Buxton’s cross was headed into Moxam’s path by Sykes a goal seemed inevitable, but his effort cleared the crossbar.
There was still time for a chance at both ends but Walton hit his effort wide for Liversedge and Sykes put his free-kick well over.
At the final whistle it was Liversedge who were the more relieved of the sides in a half were for long periods they had been under the cosh.
Rainworth can take a lot of positives from today’s game and with reinforcements to the squad imminent the future is looking a lot brighter than it once was.
RAINWORTH MWFC: Kerry: Stevens; Claridge; Widdowson (Brewin); Wankiewicz; Ludlam; Buxton; Clarke; Moxam; Morris; Sykes
Man of the Match: Danny Claridge