Wrens kick off with three points
RAINWORTH kicked off their new season with almost an action replay of last term’s opening day, with a 2-1 win over Dynamo.
Last season it was away to Loughborough Dynamo, but on this occasion it was home to Shepshed, who were reprieved from relegation during the close season.
With the counter-attraction of cut price admission at Mansfield the attendance was surprisingly high at 179, which included a sizeable and noisy contingent from Shepshed, but the fare on offer did little to suggest that either side would improve overmuch on last term.
Rainworth led through Cameron Fearon’s 31st-minute strike, and hit the woodwork twice in the second half, either side of new boy Sean Cann making it 2-0 in the 61st minute.
Shepshed finally pulled one back in the third and final minute of stoppage time through Sam Wood’s twice-deflected effort.
Cann was handed his debut after joining the previous day from Lincoln United, and the Wrens included only three players from last season in their starting line-up.
There would have been a fourth but, having been named on the team sheet, right back Rob Paling turned his ankle in the pre-match warm-up, so former Stags and Glapwell defender Chris Timons stepped up from the bench.
The Wrens included three ex-Shepshed players in their squad including last season’s goalkeeper Gavin Saxby, while the Leicestershire outfit had Julian Topliss who moved to the Dovecote from Kirklington Road in the close season.
But the expected resulting feisty contest did not materialise, and early play was uninspiring to say the least.
Dynamo keeper Andy Simpson was forced into a third-minute diving save although Cooksey’s shot lacked any real pace, and Lavell White headed a near post corner over the bar in the 11th.
It was not until the 25th minute that a hitherto toothless visiting side posed any real threat, when Fearon made an important headed clearance of Wood’s cross off the head of Richard Wilson.
That marked an upturn in the pace of the proceedings, and when White’s pace carried him seemingly clear Simon Hores stuck out a foot to divert the ball for a corner. That was half-cleared but when Ian Clarke floated the ball back into the area Kennedy headed wide.
Two minutes later, on 34, the Wrens broke the deadlock. Another corner was not cleared, and Fearon drilled the ball from the edge of a crowded box under the despairing dive of keeper Simpson.
Jerome O’Connor blew a glorious chance of an equaliser just four minutes after that, slicing wide of the far post from Wood’s useful-looking centre.
And Saxby was relieved to claw Fearon’s underplayed back pass round his post as O’Connor threatened to capitalise, Iain Screaton chipping over from the resulting flag kick.
By and large, though, Fearon and Kennedy were well in control at the back, allowing Shepshed few real opportunities other than from distance.
Even so, Saxby had to be alert to tip Wood’s tricky 20-yarder over the bar and then competently claimed the ensuing corner.
At the other end Simpson was down well to hold Cann’s cross at the feet of White.
But Cann suffered an appalling piece of bad luck in the 57th minute when he ran clear into the left of the box before screwing his shot against the far post—somehow, amazingly, it came back off the inside of the upright without crossing the line.
But Cann had only four more minutes to wait for his debut goal, although during those four intervening minutes half time substitute Alex Haughton had gone close from the edge of the area.
However, the new striker was in the right place at the right time to punish confusion at the back between Simpson and Rowan Hines and double the Wrens’ lead.
Wood placed a free kick wide from a good position for Shepshed after Kennedy was booked for a foul on Haughton.
The woodwork came to Shepshed’s rescue again in the second winner when Kennedy powered a header onto Ricky Hanson’s corner against the post.
Rainworth looked home and dry at 2-0, but Shepshed crafted a last gasp consolation goal when the persistent Wood was finally rewarded for his efforts with a wicked shot that took two deflections on its way into the net with Saxby wrong-footed as a result.
RAINWORTH: Saxby, Timons, Carter, Fearon, Kennedy, Cooksey (Mayman 84), Ward (Rowley 71), Clarke, Cann, L. White, Hanson. Subsnot used: Briggs, Jones, Mitchell.
SHEPSHED: Simpson, Hines, Littler (Rennalls 86), C. White (Haughton ht), Screaton, Hores, Topliss, Wood, North, O’Connor, Wilson (Vasey 64). Subs not used: Brewer, Meakin.
REFEREE: Matthew Jones of Stafford.
GOALS: Rainworth—Fearon 34; Cann 61. Shepshed—Wood 90+3.
MEN OF THE MATCH: Rainworth—Cameron Fearon; Shepshed—Sam Wood.