It turned on the colour of a card
In a game in which Rainworth were bullied and never really came to terms with; it was eventually decided by two key refereeing decisions.
Rainworth knew that today’s game would be difficult particularly knowing that Belper’s is based on a physical pressing game. When the sides came out for the kick off it was noticeable how much bigger the Belper team were and this was to have a major bearing on today’s result.
The game started with both sides trying to impose themselves and it was Rainworth who had the early chances without ever testing the Belper Town keeper. It wasn’t until the 9th minute that Belper started to come into the game when a fine Andy Rushbury cross was headed out by Ricky Hanson for a corner. This was to signal a period of Belper pressure with chances by Eric Graves and Shaun Roulston; both failing to trouble Alessandro Barcherini in the Rainworth goal. Rainworth were struggling to compete physically as the ball spent much of the time in the air.
Rainworth eventually managed to be more competitive and in the 24th minute a Kieran Walker cross come shot had Aaron Chapman in the Belper goal struggling and Conor Higginson just failed to get the vital touch. Then in the 28th an incident that became the talking point of the match; with Conor Higginson clear on goal he was pulled down by Karl Colley. The usual punishment for fouls by the last man is a red card for some reason only known to him; the referee produced a Yellow card. It seems that controversy and Karl Colley were Rainworth are concerned go hand in hand; as he was sent off in the fixture at Belper earlier in the season.
This was not the end of the matter and he had to be spoken to again for his use of foul and abusive language and it seemed only a matter of time before he would be sent off. In a rare Rainworth attack Andy Rushbury was booked for a foul on Conor Higginson. Belper were now exerting some pressure on the Rainworth goal and in the 32nd minute a part cleared corner fell to Glyn Cotton who curled a delightful shot into the top corner. As the players made their way to the centre circle for the restart the referee called the Belper captain and Karl Colley to him. He once again warned him about his language; I thought only cats had nine lives. I have seen both of our games against Belper and have come to the conclusion that he is a liability. This view is obviously shared by the Belper management as he was swiftly replaced by Richard Adams.
With half time fast approaching there was still time for both keepers to mishandle the ball; but neither side were able to capitalise on the errors. The whistle went with Belper just about deserving their 1-0 lead; although lucky to still have eleven players on the field in a game that had been very physical.
Rainworth obviously had a new game plan as they started the second half on the front foot; as in the 48th minute a Kieran Walker Long throw was headed on by Lee Cooksey only for Ryan Goward’s goal bound shot to be blocked. Then in the 50th minutes a fine move between Kieran Walker; Ian Holmes and Callum Lloyd resulted in Callum heading in the equaliser. Rainworth however weren’t able to push on as Belper continued to thwart them with their physical game. There was once a time when Rainworth would have capitulated but not now; although never ever managing to get on top found a way to stop Belper. Just as their battling display seemed like it would earn them a draw another refereeing decision decided it. With Lee Cooksey contesting yet another aerial ball in the penalty area; he was deemed to have committed a foul and Belper were awarded a penalty with only two minutes remaining. It seemed a harsh decision; but as Belper had won most of the aerial balls probably inevitable. Jon Froggatt needed no second invitation and despatched the spot kick into the net. With Rainworth’s resolve now broken there was time for one more Belper attack and as the cross came across the goal Ashley Kitchen inadvertently diverted it into the net for an unfortunate own goal.
In a game that Rainworth never really came to terms with; they found a way to stay competitive and but for two refereeing decisions may even have come away with something. As for Belper they are definitely a team who have the squad to get into the play-offs; whilst Rainworth are no longer the relegation candidates they once were. As for referee Mr Bradshaw I think he must have left his red card at home; for that can be the only explanation why Karl Colley wasn’t shown it.
RAINWORTH: Barcherini; Walker; Hanson; Camm; Kitchen; Cooksey; Lloyd; I. Holmes; Higginson; J. Holmes (Kimberly 88); Goward (Jenkins 88). Subs (not used) Burton; White.
BELPER: Chapman; Wright; Rushbury; Cotton; Roulston; Colley (Adams 34); Harrison (Adam 81); Warne; Frogatt; Thomas (Tuton 62); Graves. Subs (not used): Ward; Ratcliffe.
Referee: Mr Dean Bradshaw (Sheffield)
Man of match: Kieran Walker.