Off colour Wrens gift Royals a comfortable win
WOEFUL Rainworth slumped to their sixth defeat in seven matches as Sutton Coldfield hardly broke sweat to go home with all three points this afternoon.
Only a 1-1 home draw with Market Drayton has broken the miserable sequence which has seen the Wrens slide from top of the league to 17th and also exit two cup competitions.
The Wrens fell behind in the seventh minute to a James Quiggin goal, and substitute James Reid made sure of the points in the 88th minute.
Despite a much-changed squad from last season, this term is starting to bear all the hallmarks of that campaign when losing became too much of a habit, a fact not lost on some of the home fans as demonstrated by an attendance of just 73, the lowest in the division on the day, and yet on paper at least the squad this season looks appreciably stronger than last.
For their part the Royals went top of the league as a result of this win while ground sharers Romulus beat previous leaders New Mills.
Rainworth had performed well themselves at New Mills a week earlier, and had been unlucky to go out of the FA Cup, so there was some cause for optimism ahead of this game.
But it all started to go wrong even before the match, when both Ian Clarke and Danny Mayman pulled out of the pre-match warm-up, Clarke having to go to hospital with a severely swollen leg.
Sutton had been forced to draft in a couple of loan players, but one of them, Hednesford Town’s Ben Bailey, took the overall man of the match.
Gavin Saxby was restored to the Rainworth goal after Joe McCormack took the jersey for the midweek cup tie, and there was an unexpectedly early return from injury for Cameron Fearon at right back. Joe Carter filled the left back berth with Lee Briggs taking the left midfield berth.
And Danny Bacon was moved forward to partner Craig Mitchell up front.
Rainworth began facing the wind and were soon on the back foot, with Chris Timons blocking an early effort from Craig Marshall.
In response Cameron Fearon’s quick free kick was diverted off Ben Richards-Everton into the arms of keeper Niall Cooper.
But Sutton drew first blood in the seventh minute. Lee Cooksey was unable to make a telling challenge allowing Marshall to lay the ball off for Quiggin to drill a sweet drive from the edge of the box, giving Saxby no chance.
For the neutral it was probably the high-point of the whole match which then drifted into mediocrity in the strengthening gale, for there was little else subsequently to set the pulses racing, indeed Cooper was called into more than routine action just twice throughout the whole 90 minutes.
The first of those was in the 17th minute when Ricky Hanson, who beavered away seemingly in vain in midfield in a bid to lift his side to a higher level, saw a direct 25-yard free kick saved at the near post.
Meanwhile, the long throws of Bailey were becoming a feature of the match and frequently had the home side struggling to clear their lines.
Dean Rathbone was cursing his luck for the visitors in the 23rd minute when he couldn’t quite get onto the end of Matthew Dodd’s driven low cross to the far post, this after a breakaway from a Rainworth corner.
As the Wrens largely continued to put themselves under pressure, Saxby did well to save from Quiggin in a one on one.
And it was not until the 41st minute that Rainworth showed any real sign of their capabilities going forward, with a neat four man move centred on Bacon, but even that came to nothing when Fearon’s cross failed to find any takers.
Both sides made half time substitutions, with Rainworth sending on Eugene Francis for George Zuerner, Bacon dropping back as the substitute took up the front running. Meanwhile, Reid replaced the Royals’ scorer Quiggin.
Stuart McNaught picked up a booking for a cynical foul on Francis five minutes in, then a minute later Cooper was called into action to save another long range effort by Hanson.
Shortly afterwards Timons made an important intercepting header as Marshall looked to pick out Reid. But Timons was guilty of almost playing the defence into trouble when he dallied on the ball in the home area.
Richards-Everton took the ball off the toe of Mitchell before he could shoot in Rainworth’s next sortie, but it was still the visitors providing most of what worthwhile action there was.
Saxby had to divert Dodd’s angled effort after the Sutton man cut in from the left, and it was Marshall’s turn to miskick at the far paost after some good build-up play by Reid and Ross Millar.
Briggs did manage a few promising forays down the left for Rainworth, but the toothless Wrens never looked capable of profiting, and when they did push forward in numbers in the 88th minute they were caught on the counter-attack. Marshall released a long forward ball to Reid on the half-way line, Timons was unable to find the legs to keep pace, and Reid fired crisply under the diving Saxby to end any lingering home hopes of a comeback.
RAINWORTH: Saxby, Fearon (Goodacre 87), Carter, Hanson, Kennedy, Timons, Cooksey, Zuerner (Francis ht), Mitchell (White 68, Bacon, Briggs. Subs not used: Paling, McCormack.
SUTTON COLDFIELD: Cooper, Bailey, Richards-Everton, McNaught (Evans 72), Costello, Jones, Dodd, Rathbone (Giles 90), Marshall, Quiggin (Reid ht), Millar. Sub not used: Ling.
REFEREE: Andrew Barney of Coalville.
GOALS: Sutton Coldfield—Quiggin 7; Reid 88.
MEN OF THE MATCH: Rainworth—Ricky Hanson; Sutton Coldfield—Ben Bailey.