Pantomime Season Starts Early
Oh Yes he did!
Oh No he didn't!
After two hard games within the space of four days against your local rivals, which had left the squad down to the bare bones, the last team you would have chosen to play would have been league leaders Cleethorpes Town.
The travelling fans feared the worst when the team included players playing through the pain barrier and only two substitutes, the manager and player who insisted on being on the bench despite being a near cripple after Tuesday’s game, such was the spirit within the team.
Despite all of that, the leaders were pushed all the way and it could well have been even closer but for two contentious decisions by the officials which resulted in a sending off and a disputed ‘goal’ or ‘non-goal’ dependant on your interpretation of the events leading up to it.
It was Rainworth who had the first effort on goal when in the 5th minute Ryan Herbert’s long-range effort was stopped at the second attempt by Higton. A couple of minutes later and Matt Sykes set up Declan Brewin but his shot was off target.
On 12 minutes Cleethorpes had the ball in the net but it was ruled out for offside, they went close again a couple of minutes later with ball flashing the wrong side of the upright.
It wasn’t long before the opener in the 17th minute when a fine cross was pulled back from the by-line giving Alex Flett the easiest task of scoring.
Matt Sykes’s 19th minute free-kick was wide of the upright with Higton on hand if it hadn’t been.
Rainworth’s equaliser came in the 26th minute when they contested a corner, the ball was cleared to the edge of the area where it was met on the volley by Tomas Poole and it was in the top corner before Higton could move.
The match turned in the 34th minute when Poole was involved in a tackle which led the Cleethorpes player on the floor requiring treatment. There appeared no malice in the tackle and none of the Cleethorpes players remonstrated with the referee, which seemed to back this up. The referee felt differently and reached to his pocket and there was genuine amazement from both sets of players when he produced a red card. It even had some of the Cleethorpes players asking the Assistant Referee the reason for it.
The injustice seemed to spur Rainworth on and in the 38th minute they took the lead when debutant Curtis-Shane Gregory found Brewin with an inch perfect through ball. Brewin outpaced the chasing defenders and after rounding Higton, slotted it home.
The lead lasted less than a minute when an excellent step-over left Luke Mascall in the clear and he made no mistake, putting it into the bottom corner.
In the final minute of the first half Cleethorpes almost took the lead only for the effort on goal to go across the goalmouth and out for a goal-kick.
The second half saw the ten men on the back foot as Cleethorpes searched for the goal to give them the lead. They almost got it in the 48th minute when Liam Dickens effort struck the top of the crossbar.
A nice piece of skill by Gregory but his effort fails to trouble Higton. This was quickly foiled at the other end by another Dickens long range effort, but it went just over.
Rainworth were still causing the odd problem and when Brewin broke his attempted pass to Sykes lacked accuracy and was intercepted.
Cleethorpes went straight down the other end and only an excellent save by Ben Townsend at full stretch prevented them increasing their lead.
On 59 minutes Cleethorpes took the lead with a contentious goal by Brody Robertson. There was no denying the ball crossed the line just that the player was a yard offside.
The referee and Assistant were immediately surrounded by aggrieved Rainworth side but after a long discussion and booking for Townsend and Rob Ludlam the goal was awarded. It has since been tweeted that after the match the assistant referee admitted his error.
Minutes later a Rainworth attack was stopped when the referee got in the way setting up a swift Cleethorpes counter-attack, he raised his whistle to his lips but realised he had to let play go on, fortunately the effort on goal was struck well over the crossbar.
On 70 minutes Rainworth’s afternoon got even worse when Godfrey went down in a heap after hitting the ball upfield. After extensive treatment, he was stretchered off to be replaced by a half-fit Harry Bamforth.
With the ten men of Rainworth tiring a tiered challenge by Herbert from behind as the player was running out of the area resulted in a penalty. Peter Winn stepped up and gave Townsend no chance for the fourth.
At the final whistle Rainworth could hold their heads up for a performance that showed character against a very good Cleethorpes side.
RAINWORTH MWFC: Townsend; Adlington; Claxton; Herbert; Buxton; Ludlam; Gregory (Bamforth); Poole; Topliss; Brewin; Sykes. Sub (not used): Watts.
Man of the match: Ben Townsend