Sean shows he's the man who can
RAINWORTH’S 13-match winless run ended at second-placed Sutton Coldfield Town who surrendered their 100 per cent home league record.
The Royals had lost just once on their brand new 3G surface this season, in a League Cup tie, and had scored 28 goals at home in eight matches in all competitions.
But another resilient display at the back prevented them from adding to that tally, while Sean Cann notched Rainworth’s first league goal since the 2-1 defeat at Goole in September, to give them their first victory since the second game of the season.
Cann struck in the 49th minute after missing a first half penalty, but his continuing presence on the pitch for the second half was a surprise for he was clearly carrying his injury for much of the first period.
For their part Sutton Coldfield were twice denied by the woodwork, but the Wrens deserved their bit of luck for a gutsy all-round team performance.
Rainworth included new signing Ant Lynam who rejoined the club from Scarborough in midweek, but negotiations with one or two other possible newcomers were not completed in time for their inclusion.
So, with skipper Steve Kennedy serving the first of two separate one-match bans, Cameron Fearon moved to partner Tommy Hannigan in central defence and served up a stout display, leaving Rob Paling to return to right back where he put in a man of the match performance.
Joe Carter got the nod on the left side of a flat back four ahead of Lee Briggs, while Cann declared himself fit to partner Lynam up front, both Mansfield youngsters Adam Somes and Joel Holland starting on the bench.
If anything, Rainworth showed their hosts a touch too much respect in the opening 10 minutes, but the unlucky Cann was soon in trouble, falling awkwardly in only the fourth minute to aggravate his thigh injury, although he soldiered on until just after the hour mark.
Luke Chapman had the Royals’ first effort of note in the seventh minute, volleying just wide from the edge of the area, but a minute later at the other end the overlapping Paling’s cross was fumbled by home keeper Niall Cooper, who managed to fall on the ball before any Wrens forward could pounce.
The away fans were up in arms in the 10th minute when Lynam was unceremoniously pulled down just outside the box and, incredibly, play was waved on.
However it was Rainworth’s turn to ride their luck two minutes on when Jon Jones’ 18-yard ground shot wrong-footed Joe McCormack but struck the foot of the post.
As Rainworth began to make it a more even contest Danny Bacon saw his tremendous 232-yard snap shot, arrowing towards the bottom far corner, brilliantly turned aside for a corner by Cooper in the 24th minute.
Two minutes later, following a fine run and low cross by Paling, Cann was brought down in the area by Jones. Cann immediately grabbed the ball and put it on the spot himself, only to place his kick go wide off Cooper’s left hand post.
With Rainworth carrying the game to their hosts at this point, a neat exchange of passes between Ricky Hanson and Bacon gave Lynam a chance from the left of the area, but the returning striker aimed wide of the near post.
Lynam tried his luck from distance in the 40th minute but was too high, but it was Sutton who ended the half back on the attack, with first Ross Millar aiming Craig Marshall’s cross wide, and then McCormack only able to parry another Millar effort, this time from some 25 yards, but fortunately the ball ran to safety.
Cann had ended the first half clearly struggling, but still came out for the second half, two minutes into which a venomous Millar 22-yarder rattled McCormack’s bar.
However, three minutes later it was Rainworth who were ahead, when Cann scorned his problem to leave Scott Lycett chasing shadows before executing a delightful chip over Cooper and into the net.
It was a good omen for Rainworth who, despite their season’s record, have never lost after scoring first. Even so, Sutton were not about to stand aside and see their home record go cheaply, and in the 59th minute Paling popped up to clear off the line from substitute Matt Dodd following a dream of a pass from Dean Rathbone.
Just a minute later Cann cut in from the left, but his low pull back aimed for Lee Cooksey was intercepted by Lycett. Then when Cann was picked out again by Mark Camm he shrugged off his marker before firing narrowly wide.
Somes made his appearance for Lynam on the hour, and Craig Mitchell replaced Cann two minutes later, but Somes soon suffered a dead leg in a challenge.
Hannigan made two vital blocks as Sutton tried to step up a gear and, after Somes saw a shot deflected for another Rainworth corner, Paling was again in the way of James Reid in the 77th minute, then again overlapping down the right, his cross shot beat Cooper but was stopped, partially but not fully over the line, by Dodd.
McCormack saved Ed Booth’s header from a corner well in the 80th minute as Sutton committed men forward, and Hanson twice and then Carter got their bodies in the way of more home attempts.
Somes did have the ball in the home net in the 85th minute but had strayed offside to meet Mitchell’s pass, before limping off four minutes later to be replaced by Holland for stoppage time.
Still Sutton pushed on, but Rainworth were in no mood to surrender their lead and held out well for the remaining minutes.
SUTTON COLDFIELD: Cooper, Lycett, Dodds (Dodd 51), Jones, Booth, Costello, Millar, Rathbone (Reid 62), Marshall, Quiggin, Chapman (Parsons 51). Sub not used: Ling.
RAINWORTH: McCormack, Paling, Carter, Hannigan, Fearon, Camm, Hanson, Cooksey, Cann (Mitchell 62), Lynam (Somes 60, Holland 89), Bacon.
REFEREE: John Roskelly of Worcester.
GOAL: Rainwoth—Cann 49.
MEN OF THE MATCH: Sutton—Ross Millar. Rainworth and overall—Rob Paling.