Going to the wire
Defeat at Pickering and a Parkgate win, last night, has meant the relegation battle is tighter than ever.
Add the fact that Harrogate Railway are still within touching distance, next Saturdays home fixture against Parkgate has now taken on even more significance.
Last night’s match at Pickering went to form with the second placed side winning comfortably in the end, but the match wasn’t without controversy.
It had been an even opening ten minutes with both sides producing some neat passing without either side able to threaten at the other end.
That all changed on ten minutes when a poor Rainworth attempted clearance appeared to be diffused only to spark a major talking point when after a good minute the referee reversed his decision and awarded a goal, indicating the ball had crossed the line. The goal awarded to Ryan Blott, was to change the dynamics of the game and put Pickering on the front foot and gave Rainworth a mountain to climb.
Prior to the award there had been loud appeals from Rainworth for a foul on the keeper, not given by a referee who seemed hell-bent on keeping his cards in his pocket, in a match interspersed with some questionable tackles from both sides.
The goal was yet another one conceded by Rainworth that could have the tag ‘self-inflicted assist’ awarded to it, because until the mistimed clearance there was no danger.
The goal seemed to inspire the home side and for most of the half they threatened with Rainworth struggling to find any cohesion.
On 21 minutes Pickering nearly doubled their lead when on clearing an attack Ben Townsend was caught off his line but Nick Thompson’s attempted lob was wide of the mark.
Rainworth did produce the odd threat and Pickering had Toby Wells to thank as he just cleared with Matt Sykes inches from equalising.
It was Sykes again in the 29th minute but his free-kick was well off target and on the counter-attack Pickering should have doubled their lead when Ged Dalton put his effort wide when well placed.
Most of the chances were now coming to Pickering and Blott was unlucky when his goal-bound shot was deflected just past the outside of the post.
Rainworth should have equalised on 42 minutes when Sykes’s corner found an unmarked Bradley Maturin-Drew, but his header was inches over with the goal beckoning.
That miss was to prove costly when on the stroke of half-time Pickering’s Lewis Taylor appeared second-best to reach a ball with defenders better placed, but he somehow reached the ball and placed it past Townsend.
The opening exchanges of the second half saw Rainworth on the front foot and on 51 minutes Declan Brewin outpaced the defence and placed the ball past the advancing Wells but unfortunately it went inches the wrong side of the post.
Pickering replied by going even closer when Blott’s effort was turned onto the post by Townsend and cleared.
On 61 minutes Rainworth brought on Will Peat for the injured Steve Mansell and a minute later a cheeky Dalton lob went just the wrong side of the post. At the other end, Brewin’s effort struck a defender as once again he’d outpaced the defence.
Rainworth had the post to thank on 70 minutes as Dalton’s effort appeared to have ‘goal’ written all-over it with Townsend well beaten.
As Rainworth began to tire Pickering pushed forward and only an excellent Townsend save prevented Robert Chipps getting on the score sheet.
Rainworth brought on Lewis Parkin for Maturin-Drew, but it was Pickering who increased their lead when Sam Denton’s effort found the net, but not before Townsend had made two excellent goal-line saves.
Minutes later and the crowd were treated to the ‘goal of the night’ when Joe Dunnett picked up the ball on the edge of the area and left defenders in his wake before putting the ball past the advancing Townsend for the fourth.
The final act of the match saw Townsend brilliantly tip-over Blott’s effort.
The relegation battle now looks like going until the final matches to decide the relegation places.
RAINWORTH MWFC: Townsend; Mansell (Peat); Griffin; Herbert; Ludlam; Booker; Claxton; Poole; Brewin; Maturin-Drew (Parkin); Sykes. Sub (not used): Watts.
Referee: Mr. Darren Whatling