Danks double gives Wrens a right Royals pasting
RAINWORTH suffered an unwanted dose of déjà-vu at Coles Lane as they equalled their heaviest league defeat since their promotion to step 4.
Two years ago to the month the Wrens suffered a 5-1 hammering at Sutton Coldfield, and the high-riding Royals repeated the same punishment on this occasion—but there the similarity ends.
For whereas two years ago Rainworth were punished for a poor performance, this time Sutton officials were the first to acknowledge afterwards that their flattering victory margin did not reflect the overall balance of play.
It is worth noting that the fixture in the intervening season went Rainworth’s way by a single goal. Last term goals may have been in short supply, but the defensive record was the best in the division outside the top three.
This season’s team is infinitely better as an all-round unit–of that there is no doubt—but as goals have been easier to come by, so their more adventurous approach leaves gaps at the back. And Sutton were quick to capitalise.
And while there was nothing at all to choose between the two sides in the middle third of the park, the home side were more solid in defence, and more clinical in finishing.
Hopes were high that with the acquisition of striker Connor Higginson from Grantham, Rainworth would find the finish to round off their attractive approach play.
But Sutton had their own comparatively new boy in former Worcester City and Hednesford Town hotshot Mark Danks, who also had the advantage of having had a few games to settle into the side.
Yet despite his two goals even he was outshone by home defender Danny Edwards, who was so often the rock on which any Wrens enterprise foundered.
Although four of the five goals conceded bore question marks about the defending it could have been all so different, but for two key points. With the home side 2-1 ahead approaching half time a crucial third was conceded almost right on the whistle. And when the second half got under way somehow Ryan Goward’s shot stayed out of the net after beating home keeper Lee Evans but coming back off the inside of the post.
Danks sounded a warning in the ninth minute when he fired the Royals into the lead, pouncing on a half clearance out of the Wrens’ defence and drilling a low 20-yard drive out of the reach of Alessandro Barcherini’s dive.
However, Rainworth were deservedly level seven minutes later, Kieran Walker stretching up for a glancing header to guide Blair Anderson’s cross past Evans.
Parity lasted only a further six minutes before Callum Lloyd’s uncharacteristically loose pass was intercepted by home skipper Phil Male, who sent Kristian Ramsey-Dickson clear down the left. Barcherini looked a tad slow coming off his line, and the Royals striker flicked the ball neatly past him and into the net.
It looked like staying that way to half time, but then once again just before the whistle the defence was all at sea as Daryl Taylor found Luke Chapman unmarked in the box, and he had time to swivel and slot home.
Rainworth had a second half mountain to climb, and the gradient grew no gentler when Goward rattled the inside of the post four minutes in and he watched in disbelief as it rebounded into play.
To rub salt into the wounds four minutes later more defensive laxity was punished when a free kick into the box was not dealt with, and Taylor stabbed home from close in.
Sutton’s fifth, in the 63rd minute, had a real touch of quality as Danks showed great control to take the ball down from a long free kick and lash home from the edge of the box.
The final whammy came in the 89th minute when Wrens’ young substitute Nshindano Chisanga saw his venomous low drive from the left tipped onto the post and behind for a corner, although even had he scored it would have had only consolation value.
SUTTON COLDFIELD: Evans, Lycett, Keenan, Edwards, Kettle, Male, Taylor (Thompson 73), Sheldon (Leek 73), Ramsey-Dickson (Parsons 62), Danks, Chapman. Subs not used: Gwilliams, Bedford.
RAINWORTH: Barcherini, Walker, Goward, Camm, Kitchen, Cooksey, Lloyd, Bacon (Hanson 56), Higginson, J. Holmes (Chisanga 79), And erson (Slack 69). Subnot used: Burton, Jenkins.
REFEREE: Akil Howson of Leicester.
WRENS MAN OF THE MATCH: Kieran Walker.