Happy Haddrell leaves Wrens singing the Blues
LEEK Town laid their Rainworth bogey with their first ever victory over the Wrens at the fourth attempt, writes Les Lee.
Rainworth had won all three previous encounters between the two sides, but on this occasion they failed to take any of the half-dozen chances that came their way in the opening half, and lost the points to what was the Blues’ first real shot on goal in the 56th minute.
Harrison Park is an impressive stadium for its level, having previously staged Conference football, but the pitch was poor, a fact reflected in the football played as both sides slipped and struggled with the bounce of the ball—not that that was any excuse for the defeat with conditions the same for both sides.
Unfortunately Rainworth lost defender Tommy Hannigan after 15 minutes with a pull, and also forward Nathan Adams who withdrew just after the hour mark having suffered an elbow in the face just before half time.
Adams was restored to the side after missing the midweek game against Goole through work commitments. Cameron Fearon came in at right wing back for Ricky Hanson, and Ant Lynam was preferred up front to Lee Cooksey.
Rainworth’s first attack saw Danny Bacon feed the ball down the right to Stephen Akers, who rounded his marker but saw his cross cleared.
Then when Adams crossed for Lynam, keeper Ben Chapman was out smartly to smother the ball.
Leek won a 15th minute corner on the right, but at the same time Hannigan pulled up and was replaced by Chris Timons before skipper Steve Kennedy headed the flag kick clear.
We had to wait until the 18th minute to see a shot on goal at either end, when Adams threaded the ball to Niall O’Rafferty, whose effort from the edge of the area had the 6’ 5” Chapman at full stretch to save.
Two minutes later Bacon combined well with Adams before shooting just over the bar.
O’Rafferty then embarked on a strong run at the home defence before hitting a good shot narrowly wide from the edge of the box.
Lynam won a corner in the 25th minute and Fearon’s cross was only half-cleared to Akers whose return again had Chapman stretching to turn the ball over his bar.
Leek responded with a break down the right to win a corner which the dominant Kennedy headed clear.
Just before the break Adams had to leave the field for treatment after taking a knock in the face from a challenge, but the striker emerged for the second half.
However, it was Leek who began the second period the brighter, and when their best player Oliver Edwards found James McCarthy with a run and cross McCarthy miskicked their first real chance of a goal.
But five minutes later the Blues got the winner. After a short delay and a ‘handbags’ fracas the game re-started with a throw-in and the resulting cross found Matt Haddrell unmarked at the back of the six-yard box. Joe McCormack bravely got a hand to the shot, but the ball squeezed off it and inside the post. With Adams unable to continue he immediately made way for Cooksey.
O’Rafferty had a chance to open his account for the Wrens on 65 when the ball fell to him in the home area but, after cleverly turning his marker, he sliced his finish wide, then two minutes later Fearon’s long range pot was also wide.
McCormack made two fine saves in five minutes, firstly on 70 palming Edwards’ blistering drive over the bar, and then denying the same player as he sought to profit from McCarthy’s run and cross at point blank range.
Rainworth had one more chance to salvage a point when Fearon knocked a free kick to the far post. Cooksey headed the ball back across goal, but no-one was on hand to put it away.
LEEK: Chapman, Sanders, Johnson, Tinson, Mellor, Edwards, McCarthy, Nixon (Bridge 83), Haddrell, Millar, Wooliscroft. Subs not used: Ward, Holmes, Grice, Turner.
RAINWORTH: McCormack, Fearon, Carter (Briggs 76), Camm, Kennedy, Hannigan (Timons 15), O’Rafferty, Bacon, Adams (Cooksey 61), Lynam, Akers. Sub not used: Spargo.
REFEREE: John Brooks of Melton Mowbray.
GOAL: Leek—Haddrell 56.
MEN OF THE MATCH: Leek—Oliver Edwards; Rainworth—Steve Kennedy.