League goals drought goes on but clean sheet earns point at Loughborough
RAINWORTH were unable to find the same shooting boots that they wore in Tuesday’s dramatic Doodson Sport Cup win at Coalville, and had to settle for a point at lowly Loughborough Dynamo.
The Wrens’ fourth successive Evo-Stik League match without a goal was at least offset by a rare clean sheet.
But Jared Holmes’ 69th-minute spot kick was saved by home keeper Laurie Pearson, who had brought down Ryan Goward and saw the only yellow card of the day for his pains.
For Pearson the end may have justified the means as he guessed correctly and saved at the foot of his right hand post, but on the overall play a draw was a fair result, with Loughborough dominating the first half and Rainworth the second.
It was, indeed, a tale of two goalkeepers, for the clean sheet was in no small measure down to Wrens custodian Alessandro Barcherini who produced a faultless man of the match show.
Once again the Rainworth side more or less picked itself with the squad still down to the bare bones, and Kieran Walker named as substitute having indicated that he may be delayed by a family commitment.
In fact he was further delayed following an accident on his way to the ground—fortunately he was unhurt, but chairman Kim Wright had to go back to fetch him so that he could figure in the second half.. With a no-show from Blair Anderson it meant the only other available sub was young reserve Jordan Claxton.
Both keepers were in early action, Barcherini first blocking in a one-on-one with Dynamo new boy Danny Davidson and then, after Ryan Goward had blocked Dom Brennan’s follow-up for a corner, coming up with another fine save to thwart veteran Rob Norris.
At the other end Pearson similarly made a vital point blank stop from Karl Slack following good work by Holmes.
After that whirlwind opening the half began to settle down as an end to end contest but, although neither keeper was unduly extended again during the first quarter, Loughborough began to get on top with Shawn Richards a constant menace along the right.
At this stage, as quickly as Rainworth cleared their lines the ball was coming back at them, and Barcherini saved with his legs from Reece Lester and, just before the break, came up with a tip away at full stretch as Brennan’s angled effort looked destined for the top right corner.
It wasn’t quite all one way though in between times, with Slack in the way of team mate Goward’s effort, and Pearson holding Danny Bacon’s shot on the turn at the foot of a post.
With Walker on for Slack at the start of the second half Rainworth began to take the initiative, but with no out-and-out striker on the field they struggled to turn it into tangible reward.
Pearson parried Holmes’ tight-angled rocket in the 51st minute, and two minutes later Rainworth had what looked a cast-iron penalty refused when Ricky Hanson went down under Carl Sibson’s dubious challenge.
Bedworth referee Robie Dadley was pointing to the spot, though, when the outrushing Pearson upended the overlapping Goward in the left of the box. But it was more frustration for the Wrens as Pearson saved Holmes’ fairly tame effort at his post.
Even Ashley Kitchen got in on the act with an unexpected break along the right, only to see his cross-shot just clear the angle.
But Loughborough almost stole it in added time when Matt Langham should have scored from close in, only for Barcherini to end the match as he began it with a point blank save.
LOUGHBOROUGH: Pearson, Amoo, Young, Henton, Gibbons, Sibson, Richards, Norris, Davidson (Liversedge 67), Brennan (Langham 67), Lester. Subs not used: Hollist, Ruddick, Mann-Kler.
RAINWORTH: Barcherini, Hanson (Claxton 84), Goward, Camm, Kitchen, Burton, Lloyd, Bacon, Slack (Walker ht), J. Holmes, Cooksey.
REFEREE: Robbie Dadley of Bedworth.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Alessandro Barcherini.