'Mount Hempenstall' just too steep for Wrens
RAINWORTH gave themselves a mountain to climb against hitherto winless bottom club Lincoln United, and although they came close to scaling it, in the end it proved just too steep as they went down by the odd goal in seven.
But they had only themselves to blame for the mountain facing them in the first place, as United roared into a 4-1 lead, Jordan Hempenstall’s hat-trick doing most of the damage.
The Wrens had even taken a 14th minute lead from the penalty spot courtesy of Jared Holmes, but too many white-shirted players might as well have carried white flags for all the heart they showed up to half time, when they turned round 3-1 down.
With one or two exceptions the mindset appeared all wrong. Too many had the demeanour of complacency against a club with only two points on the board prior to kick-off. Had they done their homework they would have known that Lincoln were unlucky to only draw at high-riding Newcastle on Saturday, and the indications were that they were on the way back.
A couple of half time changes brought a more heartening second half show by the home side, but Hempenstall completed his hat-trick to put United 4-1 up before Blair Anderson and Lee Cooksey almost brought the home side back from the dead.
Manager Kevin Gee had said ‘same again’ after Saturday’s win, but it was Lincoln who began the brighter and showed all the first half enterprise.
However, it was Rainworth who broke the deadlock. Ryan Goward won the ball on the edge of the Lincoln box, and keeper Phil McGann charged out of his goal to bring him down. Holmes, who had missed a penalty on Saturday, took the responsibility and this time placed the perfect spot kick out of McGann’s reach to his left.
That should have been the spur Rainworth needed. Instead it galvanised Lincoln into action and Hempenstall hauled them level six minutes later with a great strike from almost 30 yards which dipped under the bar with the stretching McCormack unable to manage a touch.
Both keepers distinguished themselves with McGann saving in a one-on-one with Karl Slack, while McCormack turned Andy Hutchinson’s point blank header for a corner.
But it was still the visitors calling the tune against a lethargic home outfit, and they stunned the Wrens with two goals in four minutes at the end of the half. First, in the 42nd minute, playmaker Hutchinson teed up assassin Hempenstall to give the visitors the lead, and then in added time, with home skipper Mark Camm lying injured, David Coyde, playing the part of Moses, tapped home as the Wrens defence did a passable impression of the Red Sea.
Manager Gee sent on Danny Bacon and Jordan Turner for the second half in place of Holmes and Ewan Clarke—and, presumably with a few choice words ringing in their ears, Rainworth at last began to show more purpose and greater application.
However, it looked like ‘game over’ in the 58th minute when Hempenstall cut in strongly from the left to deliver the coup de grace.
Two minutes later, though, home man of the match Anderson restored a glimmer of hope with a fine strike when United failed to clear their lines. Then on 74, after Bacon’s howitzer was turned over for a corner, again the defence failed to clear and Lee Cooksey was on hand to tap home.
Suddenly Rainworth were right back in it, rampant even, and they had what appeared a good penalty claim for hands turned down.
But it was not to be. Goward’s venomous 20-yarder brought an equally fine save out of McGann, while Anderson and Callum Lloyd combined to set up a great chance for Bacon who could not keep his shot down. Lincoln were hanging on for dear life, but held out to celebrate their first win, while the hosts were left to contemplate on the result of their own stupor in the first half.
RAINWORTH: McCormack, Hanson, Goward, Camm, Walker, Cooksey, Lloyd, J. Holmes (Bacon ht), Slack (Payne 75), Clarke (Turner ht), Anderson. Sub not used: Burton.
LINCOLN UTD: McGann, Fleming, Coyde, Bull Reddington, Wright, Hone, Raby, Hempenstall (Garrick 80), Hutchinson (Funnell 89), Coupland (McDaid 78). Subs not used: Butler, Cowan.
REFEREE: Ben Cooke of Atherstone.
WRENS MAN OF THE MATCH: Blair Anderson.