Spot on Lynam earns Wrens' 10 a point
DEPLETED Rainworth avoided a third successive defeat with a heart-warming performance against Romulus on a bitterly cold Monday night at Coles Lane.
Following a goalless first period in which Rainworth, down almost to the bare bones, held a slight upper hand, they were not helped when skipper Steve Kennedy received his marching orders early in the second half.
That prompted the Roms to come at them more, and they drew their reward in the 74th minute when Marvin Johnson fired them ahead.
Up to that point it was hard to see where a goal would come from at either end, but within two minutes Ant Lynam had dispatched a spot kick following a foul on Craig Mitchell, to earn the Wrens a deserved point which prevented the home side from opening up a gap on them and the other struggling clubs.
Kennedy had been harshly booked for a first half 50-50 challenge by referee Mike Bingham, who had already upset the small away following by twice calling play back for a Rainworth free kick when they had possession, effectively punishing them rather than the offenders.
But the skipper could have no complaints about his second dismissal of the season after a clash with Johnson, prompting his unimpressed watching dad to exclaim that his son had ‘got to learn to stay on the field’.
With defender Tommy Hannigan, new midfielder Niall O’Raffery and striker Nathan Adams all having picked up injuries at Leek on Saturday, Ian Clarke serving the final leg of his three-match ban, Cameron Fearon unavailable and Rob Paling having left for Shepshed, Ricky Hanson returned to the side at right back and Chris Timons was given a start in Hannigtan’s place, while up front Ben Spargo made his first start since joining from Belper, but manager Kevin Gee was only able to name three substitutes, all forwards.
Spargo had a glorious chance to make an explosive start when, with only 15 seconds gone, he found himself in the clear in the home area, but finished way too high.
A goal at that point would have been a great boost, but although Rainworth were slightly the better side for most of the remainder of the first half it was the old story of the lack of a cutting edge—a malady which also infected the Roms.
Livewire Stephen Akers gave a hint of his personal performance to come with a sparkling run in the third minute to win a corner, and Danny Bacon was then at the heart of a flowing Rainworth move which ended with Hanson’s centre being snatched off the head of Lynam by home keeper Lewis Exall.
Penalty appeals for hands following a Hanson cross in the 13th minute were more in hope than expectation, before Romulus threatened with Johnson’s shot on the turn flashing across the face of goal.
Joe McCormack had to stretch upwards to turn an awkward high cross over his bar for a corner from which he managed a one-handed half clearance before saving well from James Reid follow-up.
Kennedy appeared to be more sinned against than sinning when he picked up a yellow card in the 21st minute for a 50-50 challenge which left Gavin Day grounded, but after Lee Cooksey had headed a Hanson free kick behind the far post Ben Richards-Everton had two headers off target from set pieces for the hosts, who had begun to show more enterprise in the final 15 minutes of the half.
The Roms carried that over into the second period, within the first five minutes of which Johnson’s 20-yarder was straight at McCormack and Richards-Everton again headed Todd Evans’ long throw off target.
But Rainworth were down to 10 men when Kennedy received his marching orders after a clash which left Johnson flattened.
With no defender on the bench Cooksey dropped further back as the Mark Camm-inspired rearguard dealt with everything that the home side could throw at them.
It was not all one way though, and a possible claim for a Rainworth penalty was rejected when Spargo went down in the box as Akers’ corner kick bounced around.
McCormack was back in action to turn Reid’s high, hanging centre over the bar under pressure from Nathan Blissett while at the other end Lynam’s crisp shot on the turn from the left beat the far post.
But it was Romulus who grabbed a 74th minute lead when Johnson pounced on Timons’ headed clearance to spear a fine low 20-yard drive through a crowded box and into the corner of the net.
Mitchell had replaced Spargo a minute before the goal, and within two minutes of it he won the penalty, having been brought down by home skipper Phil Male. Lynam blasted the spot kick past Exall to restore parity.
Two more minutes on another fine run by Akers was not matched by the release which gave the well-placed Lynam no chance of capitalising, then more good work by the winger set up a half-chance from which Mitchell could only find the side netting.
And, in six added minutes, Exall did well to tip away Bacon’s goalbound effort to deny gutsy Rainworth maximum points.
ROMULUS: Exall, S. Robinson (R. Evans 57), T. Evans, Richards-Everton, Male, Day, Morris, Walker, Blissett, Walker, Reid (Price 85). Subs not used: Lee, R. Robinson, Vaughan.
RAINWORTH: McCormack, Hanson, Carter, Camm, Kennedy, Timons, Cooksey, Bacon, Spargo (Mitchell 73), Lynam, Akers. Subs not used: Spencer, Wood.
REFEREE: Mike Bingham of Leamington Spa.
GOALS: Romulus—Johnson 74. Rainworth—Lynam 76 pen.
MEN OF THE MATCH: Romulus—Marvin Johnson. Rainworth and overall—Mark Camm.