Lynam emerges to put Carlton through the Mill
ANT Lynam came off the bench to hit an injury time winner for Rainworth in this afternoon’s local derby against Play-off bound Carlton Town.
The Millers, managed by former Rainworth coach Les McJannet—also a former managerial partner of current Wrens boss Kevin Gee—had secured their place on Saturday, but still had everything to play for as they look to claim runners-up spot and, with it, guaranteed home advantage in the Play-offs.
On the day, though, it was difficult to tell which of the two clubs on view had been pushing for promotion and which had faced a battle against relegation.
Rainworth fell behind in only the third minute, and time was when that would have been heads dropped and game over.
Such has been the transformation at Kirklington Road, though, that scoring first against Rainworth is no longer a guarantee of three easy points.
So the Wrens dusted themselves down and began to compete with their higher placed neighbours. They held their own for the remainder of the first half and, with a strengthening wind at their backs, took over the second period.
Jermain Hollis fired them level with a great strike in the 53rd minute, and just when a share of the spoils looked on the cards, up popped Lynam with the winner.
The three points gained ensured that last season’s points tally of 40 was beaten, that their record of league wins entered double figures, and that they moved to within one point of achieving the final target—that of finishing higher than last season’s third from bottom placing.
It also lifted them one place in the table to fifth-bottom, and put them within sight of also overhauling Lincoln United, who are now just two points ahead of the Wrens with two matches each remaining, as well as exacting a modicum of revenge for last month’s Notts Senior Cup 6-3 defeat.
Gee made a number of changes to the side which had drawn at Market Drayton on Saturday. Alessandro Barcherini donned the keeper’s jersey with Joe McCormack sitting on the bench, and Lee Cooksey returned to the heart of the defence after having apparently recovered from a hamstring injury, with Romaine Graham moving into midfield—although a recurrence meant Cooksey did not appear for the second half.
Up front, with Nathan Adams unavailable, Ben Spargo was given the nod, while Rob Paling slotted into the right of midfield, and Lynam and Stephen Akers dropped to the bench from a re-shaped 1-4-4-1 line-up.
With the derby less than three minutes old, free-scoring Carlton were in front, when Sammy MacVicar was allowed a free downward header onto a cross from the right.
And when, less than a minute later, Cooksey cleared another downward header, this time from Ruben Wiggins-Thomas, one began to fear the worst.
But Rainworth dusted themselves down and started again, and within another minute Spargo was handed a half-chance by Danny Bacon’s astute through pass, but shot too high from 20 yards.
As the rain began to pour the game became a gripping, even contest, but Barcherini had to go full stretch to tip away a wicked Wiggins-Thomas cross shot in the aftermath of a corner.
Carlton skipper Ashley Kitchen limped off to be replaced by Anthony Griffiths Junior just before the half-hour mark.
For the remainder of the half the magnificent home defence, again superbly marshalled by skipper Mark Camm, dealt competently with all that Carlton could throw at them, and what chances there were fell at the other end.
But the ball dropped unkindly for Ricky Hanson as he looked for a way through, Andy Richmond saved at Spargo’s feet and then held Matt Plant’s header onto Hanson’s free kick, and Spargo was just too high from 20 yards at the end of an eye-catching run just before the break.
With Cooksey unable to resume for the second half Graham dropped back into defence with flair player Curtis Shaw slotting into midfield.
And Shaw was soon causing problems with a spearing cross which was inches too far ahead of Spargo.
The rock that was Camm blocked a strong Griffiths effort in the 53rd minute, but within seconds Rainworth were level, Shaw’s good work setting up Hollis for a crisp, low 20-yard drive out of the diving Richmond’s reach.
Ryan Goward paced a direct free kick too high just before the hour mark.
Carlton were still threatening on the counter-attack, though, and after MacVicar’s strong run carried him past Plant, there was Camm again to stop him dead in his tracks.
Barcherini was well behind Terry Hawkridge’s effort from the edge of the area as the visitors began to assert themselves again for a spell.
But Rainworth were back on top for the final 15 minutes, with Lynam going close from 23 yards, fellow-sub Akers volleying over when the ball fell badly for him in space in the area, and Richmond grateful to fall on the rebound after his attempted clearance struck Akers.
In added time Nick Hall cleared off the line from Lynam, but it was the Wrens striker who had the final word, making no mistake with his second bite of the cherry when the ball was not cleared, to the delight of the jubilant home fans.
RAINWORTH: Barcherini, Hanson, Goward, Camm, Plant, Cooksey (Shaw ht), Paling (Akers 68), Graham, Bacon, Spargo (Lynam 77), Hollis. Sub not used: McCormack.
CARLTON: Richmond, Darkin, Fletcher, Asher, Kitchen (Griffiths 29), Hall, Thornton, Naylor, MacVicar (Brown 77), Wiggins-Thomas, Hawkridge (Foster 86). Subs not used: Kimberley, Whitman.
REFEREE: Christopher Ward of Worksop.
GOALS: Rainworth—Hollis 53; Lynam 90+2. Carlton—MacVicar 3.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Mark Camm.