Dour dogfight ends in goalless stalemate
WHAT a difference a year makes!
In the corresponding match last season Rainworth and Romulus served up an eight goal thriller, but the contrast between that and Saturday’s dour struggle could not have been more pronounced.
Rainworth had not played a league game in four weeks, during which their only action had been two friendlies and a Notts Senior Cup tie against Step 7 side Basford United.
And how it showed in the first half as the Wrens struggled to string two passes together.
Fortunately, despite greater territorial advantage, Romulus were not much better, but when the Wrens did take up more of the running in the second half a goal still looked a long way off.
At least the point gained by each side lifted them one further point above the bottom two, and a few prayers of thanksgiving for Shepshed Dynamo and Quorn losing may well have been uttered when their results came through.
A miserable ‘crowd’ of 71 watched, and more of the same is unlikely to see that number raised.
But at least Rainworth did not lose, and at least they kept a clean sheet as their defence continued to show why, despite their league position, they own one of the best ‘goals against’ records in the division.
The only changes from the starting side which beat Basford in the Senior Cup saw Rob Paling preferred to Joe Carter at left wing back, and Matt Glass return to the line-up with Lee Cooksey making way and sitting on the bench—a bench which remained undisturbed until youngster Liam Theakstone took the field for the final five minutes.
Romulus were quickly onto the attack from the start, and a cruel bounce of the ball from a cross carried it away from Cameron Fearon, leaving Ashley Jackson a good chance of an early strike, which he hit wide from close range.
And, after Roms keeper Lewis Exall comfortably collected a Matt Glass free kick from the left, Jackson drove a free kick from inside the ‘D’ wide, this after Paling was penalised for a foul on Nathan Blissett.
Paling’s long throws caused some early problems in the visiting defence, and when one was only half-cleared to Fearon his volley from the edge of the area flashed wide.
Exall held Andy Toyne’s astute header at the feet of Glass in the 14th minute, but two minutes later came the miss of the half at the other end, also from a long throw, when Liam Francis sliced well wide from close range at the far post.
Increasingly for Rainworth passes began to go astray, with Romulus generally first to the ball, but goalmouth action was scarce with neither keeper extended before the break.
Rainworth had defended well enough with Tommy Hannigan in particular doing a good job in the giant Blissett, one positive for the Wrens which continued into the second half.
But with the temperature dipping after the lunchtime downpour there had been nothing to warm the sparse crowd.
A few choice words from manager Kevin Gee appeared to have some effect for the second half, with Rainworth getting on top, but still lacking the sharpness to prise open a defence which was very quick to close down any sniff of a chance for the home side.
Exall was called into semi-acrobatic action in the 53rd minute to keep out Steve Kennedy’s back-header onto another trademark long throw from Paling.
Rainworth strung together their first really fluent move of the match on the hour but, picked out by Toyne, Fearon’s fierce angled drive struck a defender and went to safety.
Romulus counter-attacked but when the ball fell invitingly for Blissett he shot tamely straight at Ale Barcherini, and then defender Ben Richards-Everton was wide of the far post with a towering header onto a corner.
But well though Rainworth had defended, they did their forwards few favours with balls up in the air for the diminutive Akers to try to get the better of the giant Richards-Everton.
Rainworth’s best attempt came in the 74th minute with a 25-yard dipper from the industrious Danny Bacon—when will he get the goal his efforts deserve? Not on this occasion, for it cleared the bar, although not by much.
Romulus, though, ended with a mini-flourish, and when Barcherini dropped a routine corner which he had caught comfortably and then had to tip it behind for another corner before Blissett could pounce, Hannigan cleared off the line from the follow-up flag-kick, enabling the keeper to fall on the ball.
RAINWORTH: Barcherini, Fearon, Paling, Camm, Kennedy, Hannigan, Akers, Bacon, Spargo, Glass (Theakstone 87), Toyne. Subsnot used: Cooksey, Graham, Carter, Simpson.
ROMULUS: Exall, S. Robinson, Lee, Richards-Everton, Male, Day, Francis, Walker, Blissett, R. Evans, Jackson (T. Robinson 65). Subs not used: Agbondlahor, T. Evans, Reid, Jay.
REFEREE: Mark Griffiths of Doncaster.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Tommy Hannigan.