Missed chances cost Wrens after controversial penalty
A CONTROVERSIAL third minute penalty was enough to inflict Rainworth’s third defeat in eight days, but they could be forgiven for thinking ‘there ain’t no justice’.
This was a much improved display after the horrors of Quorn and Coalville, and it was a match which Rainworth could and should have won.
Even Loughborough officials admitted at half time that they had been lucky to be awarded the spot kick, and for most of the 90 minutes there was no doubt that the Wrens were the better side.
But their lack of goals continued, and on this occasion the strikers could not point to a lack of service from midfield, because unlike the two previous matches the Wrens just about edged that battle in the first half and won it easily in the second.
However, numerous second half chances were wasted, so much so that in the final outcome that penalty should not have affected the eventual destination of the three points.
Loughborough had arrived on the back of a 7-1 spree against bottom club Market Drayton on the previous Saturday—which saw the sacking of the Drayton management immediately after the match.
But the Shropshire side responded with a 2-1 win over Kidsgrove on Tuesday night to pull themselves level on points with Rainworth, and with Newcastle Town also picking up a point other results certainly did not go the Wrens’ way.
Rainworth co-manager Billy Millar had said that three up front against Coalville had failed, and the decision of which of the three to leave out was made for the management when Saturday’s man of the match Nathan Adams, who had taken the accolade despite an injury in the friendly against Worksop, aggravated it against Coalville.
The return of skipper Steve Kennedy after a three-match absence gave the defence a much more steely look, and enabled the deployment of Cameron Fearon and Ricky Hanson as wing backs alongside Kennedy, Mark Timons and Tommy Hannigan, while Josh Barker was added to the midfield for his starting debut.
New boy Matt O’Halloran had hoped to figure, but it was decided to leave him out to allow the 11-day gap before the next match to regain some fitness.
Loughborough attacked from the off, an in only the second minute referee Andrew Park was pointing to the spot after Jake Dale-Brown brushed against Mark Camm and fell very easily. The decision seemed harsh in the extreme, but Dynamo skipper Karl Noble blasted the spot kick seconds after the stopwatch had entered minute three.
So far this season Rainworth have not won a point after conceding first, so it would have been understandable although not forgivable had heads immediately dropped.
But they didn’t, and instead the Wrens immediately set about repairing the damage, with Danny Bacon having a tight angled shot well parried by Laurie Pearson two minutes later.
Bacon was unlucky again in the eighth minute when the ball dropped slightly unkindly for him in the six-yard box following a corner and he was unable to force it over the line.
Joe McCormack was called into action with a great save from Jamie Clarke’s angled shot, but for the most part Kennedy, leading by example, had his defence well organised and, although the game had developed into an even contest, neither keeper was unduly troubled for most of the remainder of the first half.
Hannigan did well to recover and rob Clarke after initially losing out to the Dynamo striker in the 26th minute, and was unlucky at the other end when his downward header from a corner bounced up too high and cleared the bar six minutes later.
Loughborough began the second half as they had the first, Sam McVicar getting to the by-line but finding no takers for his pull-back across the six yard box, and then the visitors won a couple of corners in quick succession.
But Rainworth upped their game once more, and Hannigan was again unlucky with a far post header onto yet another flag kick dropping wide.
Sean Cann then blew two opportunities to equalise in as many minutes. First on 53, having been picked out by Camm’s precision pass, he ran across the 18-yard line before seeing his shot cannon off a defender to safety, but then missed a glorious chance two minutes later. Receiving Kennedy’s ball over the top, the striker found himself more or less one on one with Pearson, but policed by Carl Sibson he chipped over both keeper and bar.
As Rainworth continued to attack the ball was cleared off the Loughborough line from a corner and Timons, following in, blasted wide, then another minute on Cann missed out again following a fine piece of work by Ant Lynam to set him up, this time slotting wide of the advancing keeper and the post with yet another glorious one-on-one chance.
With Rainworth now dominant, Pearson held another Hannigan header from yet another corner, and the keeper then distinguished himself with a fine save to deny Lynam’s close range effort from Fearon’s strong run and cross.
Loughborough were floundering against a strong Rainworth defence with Kennedy in particular giving nothing away, but McCormack was called into action to keep out McVicar’s 10-yard effort in the 77th minute.
Rainworth sacrificed Hanson to throw on extra attacker Kyle Gee-Pemberton in the 83rd minute, and with Hannigan also gambling and pushing increasingly forward the Wrens continued to hold the upper hand for the final minutes, but in the end paid the price for their profligacy midway through the half when a succession of chances came their way, leaving that early controversial penalty decisive.
RAINWORTH: McCormack, Fearon, Hanson (Gee-Pemberton 83), Kennedy, Timons, Hannigan, Bacon, Camm, Cann, Lynam, Barker (Cooksey 67). Subs not used: Wright, Carter, Briggs.
LOUGHBOROUGH: Pearson, Dale-Brown, Young, Noble (Williams 70), Sibson, Betts, Blackwell (Mooney 75), Henton, Clarke, McVicar, Lester. Subs not used: Jarvis, Langham, Mann-Kier.
REFEREE: Andrew Park of Lincoln.
GOAL: Loughborough—Noble 3 pen.
MEN OF THE MATCH: Rainworth and overall—Steve Kennedy. Loughborough—Jake Dale-Brown.