Holmes back to show how it's done
STRIKER Ian Holmes returned from university for his half term break to end Rainworth’s long goalless run and set them on the way to a league double over struggling Romulus.
When Holmes struck, the Wrens had gone 496 minutes without a goal of their own other than a penalty shoot-out in the Notts Senior Cup at Newark Town, for even the one goal credited to them from open play in that tie was an own goal.
Holmes let fly from some 30 yards to break the deadlock in the 37th minute, and acting skipper Callum Lloyd volleyed a second four minutes later after the Roms struggled to clear a corner.
But Romulus pulled one back through Luke Keen with the second half less than two minutes old, and had Rainworth hanging on by the end—indeed deputy referee Stuart Wade, a half-time replacement for the injured Tommy Hollidge, denied Romulus two good shouts for a penalty in the closing stages, which could have put a different complexion on the result. To rub salt into their wounds Marcus Brown picked up a booking for diving, although it must be said that while keeper Alessandro Barcherini seemed to have caught him ,the Roms substitute made a meal of his fall.
Moments before that, Barcherini was injured while making one of a number of top notch saves which earned him man of the match. Mr Wade had not stopped play but advised Ricky Hanson to put the ball out of play. However, Hanson clearly, and apparently without thinking, put his hand on the ball before doing so, and was fortunate indeed when play restarted with a throw in, which was sportingly thrown back to the keeper despite Roms’ dismay at the non-decision.
Romulus official Richard Clarke took over the spare flag for the second half and, it should be noted, was scrupulously fair to both sides from start to finish.
Rainworth enjoyed the better of the first half, even though it took them 37 minutes to break their duck, but both keepers were in good early saving action, Lewis Exall smothering Conotr Higginson’s close range poke while Barcherini tipped Nathan Walker’s rising drive over the bar.
The rest of the half belonged to Rainworth, with Exall tipping over his bar from Jared Holmes’spectacular overhead effort during the four minutes between the goals.
But within two minutes of the restart Romulus were right back in contention, Ryan Goward’s misplaced attempted headed clearance leaving Keen with the easiest of chances.
Rainworth suffered a setback when Ashley Kitchen had to be withdrawn from defence. Jermain Hollis replaced him with Lloyd dropping back alongside Sam Purcicoe.
Higginson brought a wonderful reflex save out of Exall following Blair Anderson’s good work on the left, but Romulus clearly saw their way to saving the game, and it was Barcherini’s turn to excel with another fine stop from substitute Brown, who then chipped too high after the lively Tyron Amory had set up the chance.
In between, Curtis Wynter was not far wide with a blistering 40-yarder as Rainworth sat increasingly deep.
Barcherini pulled off another acrobatic save of Dexter Ravenhill’s driven 20-yard free kick, but was then injured saving at the feet of Brown, leading to the first of the penalty claims for Hanson’s hand ball. The keeper played on but still looked groggy, and when he clattered into Brown in added time the expected penalty was not forthcoming, Brown instead booked for alleged simulation.
So the points remained with Rainworth, but their fans must be wishing that Ian Holmes was available on a more regular basis than only when his university studies allow.
RAINWORTH: Barcherini, Hanson, Goward, Purcicoe, Kitchen (Hollis 53), Williams, Lloyd, I. Holmes, Higginson, J. Holmes, Anderson. Subs not used: Jenkins, Kimberley.
ROMULUS: Exall, Wynter (Smith 89), Lee, O’Callaghan, Francis, Walker (M. Jackson 61), Ravenhill, Keen, Clarke (Brown 65), A. Jackson, Amory. Sub not used: James.
REFEREE: Tommy Hollidge of Leicester (Stuart Wade of Leicester ht).
MAN OF THE MATCH: Alessandro Barcherini.