Lack of goals keeps pressure on Wrens
IF points were awarded for the number of times struggling clubs are told by opponents that they are in a false position at the wrong end of the table Rainworth would probably be pushing for the Play-offs now.
But once again the Wrens’ Achilles’ heel let them down so that, despite being a good match for Play-off chasing Loughborough, they made the trip back up the M1 with nothing to show.
Just one goal parted the sides in a match where Dynamo had the better of the first half and Rainworth the second—but the Wrens’ lack of a goalscorer was their undoing.
Grantham officials last Tuesday and Loughborough officials after this game were both moved to pay glowing tributes, but the harsh fact is that there is no ‘C for compliments’ column in the league table, and Rainworth are where they are purely and simply because of their appalling Goals For record, despite still boasting the third-best defence in the division.
In the event the match was settled by a rather messy 40th-minute strike by the home side’s Jake Betts.
Despite the previous Tuesday’s defeat Wrens boss Kev Gee went with the same starting 11, but made changes on the bench, bringing in striker Rob Gill for his debut as half time substitute for Rob Paling, while Romaine Graham and Niall O’Rafferty were unused subs after not being included on Tuesday night.
The longer the winless run goes though—and it is now seven in the league—the more nervous Rainworth are likely to become, especially when the tough relegation scraps crop up, as one does on Tuesday night when they are at home to bottom club Quorn.
Meanwhile Shepshed Dynamo’s draw at Hucknall pulled the next-to-bottom club to within four points of Rainworth, albeit from one game more.
Despite having the wind at their backs in the first half Rainworth came under some sound pressure , during which Lee Cooksey was prominent in keeping the home forwards at bay.
And it was not until the 12th minute that Rainworth found any response, when Ben Spargo and Stephen Akers combined well on the right, but Spargo was well closed down in thr box before he could pull the trigger.
A minute later Spargo saw his header onto a free kick deflected for a corner.
By and large, though, there was not much action at either end where it mattered for a 15-minute spell, although Curtis Shaw showed that he can be a good acquisition once match fitness is achieved, and fellow newcomer Ryan Goward put in another fine performance after his scoring debut five days earlier.
Away fans’ hearts were in mouths on a couple of occasions around the half-hour, first when a Wrens attack broke down and Jamie Clarke’s finish was poor at the end of a swift counter-attack, and then Shawn Richards had the ball in the net, only to have it ruled out for offside.
But Rainworth had their chances too, with the well-paced Spargo not quite able to get a telling header onto a Goward free kick.
Loughborough finally broke the deadlock in the 40th minute with what proved to be the winner. Steve Kennedy was harried into fouling Richards on the left, Carl Sibson knocked Adam Wykes’ deep free kick back into the danger zone and, with the defence unable to clear, Betts bundled it over the line.
A minute before the break Akers’ bobbling effort had Kahil Mann-Kier sprawling to turn the ball for a corner.
Rob Gill finally made his long-awaited debut for the second half, replacing Rob Paling as the Wrens went 4-2-4, but although he added a touch of steel to the front line an equaliser remained elusive, while Loughborough always looked dangerous on the counter with Mark Camm in particular at his best to deal with any threats.
Shaw and Danny Bacon both saw efforts go too high, but it was Alessandro Barcherini’s turn to make a sprawling save of Danny Jenno’s cross shot just before the hour mark.
As Rainworth turned up the heat another Goward cross just eluded the head of Spargo, and then Mann-Kier had to punch away Bacon’s lob over the covering home defence.
Gill then appeared to be taken somewhat by surprise when the ball fell invitingly for him in the box, and he ran it wide.
But the Wrens were grateful to Goward for his line clearance when Clarke’s crisp drive beat Barcherini in the 77th minute.
Mann-Kier was out smartly to thwart Matt Glass as he chased Gill’s through pass a minute later and, as play swung quickly to the other end, Barcherini pulled off an amazing point-blank save, hurling himself across his line to deny Karl Nobel.
Dom Brennan was well policed by Camm as he tried another break for the home side before Rainworth’s best chance in the 87th minute, when Gill’s downward header from a corner was cleared off the line by Dan Henton.
And even the presence of Barcherini in the Loughborough box for a very late free kick brought no reward—indeed had Mann-Kier not delayed his release his opposite number might well have ended with egg on his face.
LOUGHBOROUGH: Mann-Kier, Jenno, Young, Nobel, Sibson, Betts, Richards (Brennan 79), Henton, Clarke (Langham 80), Edwards, Wykes. Subs not used: Lester, Dale-Brown, Gibbons.
RAINWORTH: Barcherini, Fearon, Goward, Cam, Kennedy, Cooksey, Paling (Gill ht), Bacon, Spargo, Akers (Glass 52), Shaw (Toyne 83). Subs not used: O’Rafferty, Graham.
REFEREE: Matthew Wilkes of Stourbridge.
GOAL: Loughborough—Betts 40.
WRENS MAN OF THE MATCH: Mark Camm.