A Christmas Cracker
A seven goal thriller.
Rainworth’s final game before the Christmas break was against the form team in the Premier Division Pickering Town, unbeaten in 7 games and conceding less than one goal per game, and up until today the only team to have beaten league leaders Cleethorpes Town.
Today Rainworth gave them a fright, but were left to rue two golden opportunities before Pickering showed their ruthlessness in front of goal with Billy Logan near unplayable at times.
Trailing by three goals at one stage they eventually came back at Pickering to eventually lose by the odd goal in seven in what was a tense finish.
As early as the 2nd minute Rainworth almost gifted Pickering the opener but Ben Townsend managed to keep Billy Logan’s effort out.
Rainworth went straight down the other end and Declan Brewin and Matt Sykes combined well, but Sykes’s effort was well over.
They should have taken the lead in the 7th minute when Jordan Claxton and Sykes combined but Julian Topliss put the chance the wrong side of the upright when well placed.
Logan was continuing to be Pickering’s biggest threat but his shot in the 10th minute was straight at Townsend. At the other end, Phil Buxton’s free-kick just curled the wrong side of the upright with Toby Wells beaten.
On 17 minutes Logan, did well to get his head-on Denny Ingram’s corner but it failed to trouble Townsend.
On 19 minutes, it looked as though Rainworth must score when Brewin set up Topliss, but with the goal at his mercy he snatched at the shot and put it well over.
A minute later Rainworth were to rue that miss when the ball found Logan and his shot was too powerful for Townsend for the opener.
Four minutes later and they were two up as Townsend appeared to have save Eddie Birch’s inswing corner, but the assistant indicated to the referee that the ball had crossed the line and the goal was awarded. Things got even worse for Rainworth as within a minute Logan found the ball at his feet and after beating a couple of defenders he coolly slotted the ball home for the third.
In the space of five minutes Pickering had shown their ruthlessness in front of goal, leaving Rainworth on the back foot knowing they should have down better with their opportunities.
They did pull one back on 31 minutes when a great ball from Buxton sent Brewin clear, rounding the keeper in the process and placing the ball in the far corner.
Minutes later they almost pulled another back when Curtis Gregory’s run through the opposition ended with Brewin inches away from converting Sykes’s cross. Gregory then tried an effort from long range but Wells easily gathered it.
Pickering still created opportunities and Ryan Blott and Birch both went close, neither however troubled the Rainworth goal.
At half-time Rainworth must have been wondering what the score-line would have been with better finishing, in a half Pickering’s finishing edged.
Rainworth started the second have in search of a goal to bring them back into the game and in the 47th minute Gregory’s cross was just too near the keeper.
Pickering however had other ideas and Townsend did well to make a point-blank save from Logan. A few minutes later and the Rainworth goal led a charmed life as Pickering pushed for a fourth.
Undeterred Rainworth continued to push forward themselves and Wells made a point-blank save from Gregory, before Sykes’s long-range effort just went the wrong side of the upright with Wells beaten.
Rainworth were dominating this period of the game, without finding that elusive final pass.
A momentary lapse when weak defending allowed Blott to knock the defender off the ball resulted in Logan giving Nick Thompson the easiest of tasks to score Pickering’s fourth.
Still Rainworth came forward and Ryan Herbert’s effort flashed just the wrong side of the post. At the other end, Townsend, did well to save form the ever-dangerous Logan.
Rainworth made a double substitution bringing on Nick Langford and debutant Matt Harris for Topliss and Gregory.
The 71st minute saw Harry Bamforth score an absolute cracker with his long-range effort going in off the underside of the crossbar.
Three minutes later and Rainworth had a third after a good build up the ball found Langford and his run across the area and shot finished in the bottom corner.
At this stage Rainworth were on top and Pickering understandably tried to slow the game down.
There was another close call in the 79th minute when Rob Ludlam’s long range effort just went over in what was becoming a very tense finish.
Rainworth made their final substitution bringing on Bradley Maturin-Drew on for Bamforth.
Rainworth threw everything at Pickering, who stood firm and almost snatched another in the final minute only for Townsend to make a great block.
At the final whistle, Pickering had just edged what had been a great advert for NECL football, their superior finishing being the difference.
RAINWORTH MWFC: Townsend; Adlington; Claxton; Herbert; Buxton; Ludlam; Gregory (Harris); Bamforth (Maturin-Drew); Topliss (Langford); Brewin; Sykes. Sub (not used): Watts.
Referee: Mr. James Shipley.
Man of the match: Curtis Gregory.