Wrens bounce back and stretch unbeaten sequence to six
RAINWORTH made it six games without defeat as a result of Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Leek Town, but dropped one place in the Division One South table.
However, the match at Harrison Park was in direct contrast to the 2-2 home draw with Market Drayton five days earlier. On that occasion the Wrens had allowed a two-goal lead to slip away, but at Leek they had to claw back a 2-0 deficit to gain a point.
It was one for the form book, with both sides on what would have been ‘point-a-match’ records in the old days of two for a win, and indeed it was the Blues’ sixth share of the spoils in their 10 league games to date.
Rainworth fell behind to goals within five minutes either side of the interval. But replies by Lee Cooksey and Jordan Turner restored parity, and by the end the Wrens looked the more likely winners against a side they had beaten three times in the previous four meetings.
With Ashley Kitchen unavailable Cooksey was recalled to the starting line-up, while Callum Lloyd’s return from suspension meant Jared Holmes pushed forward and Karl Slack warming the bench.
Both sides struggled early on to come to terms with a diabolical surface which, as the first half progressed, seemed to suit Leek’s more direct approach than Rainworth’s passing game, and Town might have grabbed a 14th minute opener, Matt Haddrell firing wide after keeper Joe McCormack, who had a short spell with the Blues last season, had parried Dan Shelley’s initial effort.
Almost immediately home right wing back Tim Sanders’ outstretched leg proved just enough to deny Ian Holmes a shot on goal following some typically fine work by Callum Lloyd.
The home side were finding some joy from the overlapping runs of Sanders and Dan Smith, and after Mark Camm’s perfectly time challenge on Smith, McCormack was called on to save from Karl Charlton and then Haddrell, who then volleyed a great chance too high.
In reply home keeper Steven Hodgson needed two attempts to save at Blair Anderson’s feet before, in their next attack, Leek were thwarted by the impressive Adam Burton’s header from under the bar to keep out Peter Wright’s angled effort.
Five minutes before half time Hodgson produced a great save after brilliant work in the area by Jared Holmes set up namesake Ian.
But it was Leek who snatched the lead two minutes later, with George Melling not picked up as he ran into the box to glance home a deft header from a corner.
Five minutes into the restart the Wrens found themselves two adrift when McCormack, coming out of his goal to claim a routine ball, slipped, leaving Charlton a simple finish.
Kieran Walker was close to an early reply, grazing the outside of a post with a low drive.
Turner was thrown into the fray in the 65th minute, and within two minutes he was involved, along with the two Holmes boys, in winning the corner which led to the start of the comeback, Cooksey getting forward to plant a firm header.
Two minutes on Leek had a third goal ruled out for a push, but it was increasingly the visitors who were calling the tune, and when substitute Karl Slack rounded Hodgson he was forced wide and could not keep his finish on target.
Slack then ran on to meet Camm’s long free kick and try a clever lob which beat the advancing keeper but also the bar.
But Rainworth were back on terms in the 85th minute, Turner determinedly rounding both Hodgson and Sanders in the left corner of the box to put away a clinical finish.
LEEK: Hodgson, Sanders, Smith, Thomas, Melling, Hall, Wright (Grice 69), Shelley, Haddrell, Charlton, Danylyk. Subs not used: Bridge, Urwin, Davidson.
RANWORTH: McCormack, Walker, Goward, Camm, Cooksey, Burton, Lloyd, Bacon, I. Holmes (Slack 69), J. Holmes (Hanson 84), Anderson (Turner 65).
REFEREE: Mark Billingham of Stourbridge.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Adam Burton.