More injury woes as Wrens settle for point at Shepshed
THE gale-force wind was the only winner of Rainworth’s relegation dogfight at bottom club Shepshed, but the point gained moved the Wrens seven clear of the drop zone.
But it was scrappy fare with little to ignite the 120 crowd as both sides struggled to come to terms with the gale and a poor, uneven pitch.
Ben Spargo gave Rainworth a 12th-minute advantage, but it lasted only three minutes before Dynamo new boy Rob Mulonga, from East Midlands Counties side Bardon Hill, marked his debut with the equaliser.
Spargo was a late addition to the starting line-up when new striker Rob Gill was denied his debut by a hamstring pull suffered during the pre-match warm-up.
And if that was not enough, fellow front man Matt Glass suffered a 25th-minute ankle injury and then Tommy Hannigan sustained another injury on his return to the side, after all three substitutes had been used, and had to be pushed up front as nuisance value for the final few minutes with Spargo dropping back to plug the gap.
Hannigan had begun at right wing back, filling in for the injured Ricky Hanson and enabling Lee Cooksey and Adam Burton to continue as centre backs from their previous outing at Kidsgrove.
Meanwhile Rob Paling, who had rejoined the Wrens from Shepshed two days earlier, began on the bench but made his appearance as half time substitute for Joe Carter, going to his favoured right side with Hannigan switching left.
Shepshed included former Wren Joe Ward who was by far their most influential player on the day, while another Rainworth old boy, Jermain Hollis, also appeared for the second half in place of skipper Iain Screaton, with Ward taking the armband.
This was a match which Wrens boss Kevin Gee will have marked down for a win, and after a lack lustre opening spell it looked as if they might be on their way in the 12th minute.
A minute earlier Hannigan and Danny Bacon had been at the heart of a promising move before Bacon’s 20-yard shot flew off target.
But then a poor clearance by Shepshed keeper James Martin fell straight to the feet of Bacon, who fed it through for Spargo, just onside, to slip home past the red-faced goalkeeper.
Three minutes later, though Wrens guardian Alessandro Barcherini got down well to save Screaton’s cross shot from the right at his near post. But he was unable to keep hold and Mulonga was first to the loose ball to tuck it away with the keeper unable to recover quickly enough.
Despite facing the gale, the goal gave Shepshed more heart, and twice the again impressive Cooksey had to tidy up threatening forays.
Burton could find no direction with a far post header when Bacon headed Stephen Akers’ free kick back across the six yard box in the 22nd minute.
Three minutes later Glass screamed in agony as he fell awkwardly and injured his ankle and after a couple of minutes he was helped off the pitch to be replaced by Ant Lynam.
Another half-chance went begging when Spargo ran onto Barcherini’s long wind-assisted clearance, only to volley wide as the ball ran away from him on the gale before he could bring it under control.
But the Wrens were counting their lucky stars in the 37th minute when Mark Camm was booked for a foul on Ward on the edge of the area. Even the majority of Wrens fans were convinced it was inside the penalty area, but Lichfield official Dragan Kuzmanovic, having consulted his assistant, gave the free kick just outside, and insisted afterwards that he was absolute sure it was not a penalty and had only conferred with his assistant for confirmation. To Rainworth’s relief Ward drilled the free kick wide.
Rainworth had one more chance as the first half approached added time. A clearance destined for a throw-in was caught on the wind and sailed behind for a corner, from which Joe Carter’s driven cross found no foot in a crowded six-yard area.
The wind continued to dominate proceedings in the second half, but of the two sides it was Shepshed who were beginning to assert themselves, and Rainworth were grateful to Cooksey for a goal line clearance to deny Steve Chaplin in the 55th minute after Barcherini had done well to block the striker’s initial effort.
As Rainworth looked for a way back Lynam was high and wide from a 20-yard free kick and then a minute later, on the hour, he beat the offside but was forced wide. He managed to screw the ball back into the six-yard area, but Akers, needing only a touch from two yards out, somehow contrived to blaze over the bar.
Ward’s driven 25-yard free kick brought a diving save out of Barcherini for a corner, and the hearts of the away following were in their mouths again in the 79th minute when Mulonga put Chaplin through one on one with Barcherini, only for the striker to blaze wide.
That was more or less the last chance of a dour match, apart from a long throw by Paling to the far post where the under-pressure Richard Wilson turned the ball for a corner and was then grateful to see the referee award a goal kick instead.
SHEPSHED: Martin, Boafo (O’Connor 79), Wilson, Brewer, Screaton (Hollis ht), Hore, Ward, Pembleton, Chaplin, Mulonga, North. Subs not used: Sturgess, Z. Jenkins, J. Jenkins.
RAINWORTH: Barcherini, Cooksey, Carter (Paling ht), Camm, Hannigan, Burton, Toyne (O’Rafferty 81), Bacon, Spargo, Akers, Glass (Lynam 27). Sub not used: King.
REFEREE: Dragan Kuzmanovic of Lichfield.
GOALS: Shepshed—Mulonga 15. Rainworth—Spargo 12.
MEN OF THE MATCH: Shepshed and overall—Joe Ward. Rainworth—Lee Cooksey.