Rickards' winning league run ends
RAINWORTH;S winning league run under new manager Scott Rickards was ended more emphatically than the 2-1 scoreline suggests by hosts Mickleover Sports on Tuesday night.
Prior to the game Mickleover were presented with their Club of the Month award after a near perfect September in which their only failure to win had been an FA Cup draw with Corby Town.
Unfortunately for Rainworth, the traditional curse which these awards tend to bring had already worked its spell with defeat in the replay followed by a 4-0 hammering at leaders Leek on Saturday.
With Rainworth having tumbled disappointingly out of the Trphy, both sides were looking to bounce back, but it was the home side who succeeded.
Early last season the Wrens had blitzed the Sports goal to no avail as they fell to a smash and grab single goal defeat.
But there was no such story to write on this occasion as Mickleover dominated for most of the 90 minutes, forcing the Wrens’ rearguard into prolonged spells of backs to the wall defending.
And, although they held out to half time, they were undone by two strikes in six early second half minutes, before substitute Kieran Walker pulled a consolation goal back as the match entered three minutes of stoppage time.
Worse news for Rainworh was a bad knee injury to Ashley Longstaff, who was walking on crutches after the game and who looks set for a lengthy absence.
There might have been even more injury worries when Sam Saunders appeared to fall awkwardly in only the second minute, but he was able to continue after treatment, and after a low key opening by both sides Mickleover created the first chance in the 14th minute. Willie McGhie profited from a lucky rebound on the 18-yard line, but James Martin was equal to the shot, getting down well to turn it for a corner.
Shortly afterwards Callum Lloyd brought a fine save out of home keeper Chris Martin with a 20-yarder aimed for the top corner, but thereafter Sports began to establish a degree of authority.
Jamie Clarke was thrown into the fray in the 26th minute after Longstaff suffered his injury, but Sports, inspired by the excellent Jordan Hall, upped the tempo, creating a number of goal chances, most of which, however, were off target.
In a rare Rainworth raid Jordan Ball saw his drive from the left parried for a corner, but the Wrens were relieved to reach half time still on terms.
Chris Martin acrobatically pushed Ricky Hanson’s cross away from Ball as the second half got under way, but it was soon back to the first half pattern, and it came as no surprise when the deadlock was broken in the 53rd minute.
Matt Varley was booked for a lunge on Karl Demidh near the half way line, and Nico Di Girolamo rose highest at the post to head home the ensuing free kick.
There was relief when the otherwise excellent James Martin almost fumbled Karl Bryant’s teasing cross into his own net a minute later, Ricky Hanson popping up on the line to keep it out.
But Mickleover doubled their lead in the 59th minute when Demidh, looking suspiciously offside when he received a clearance just inside the Rainworth half, was allowed to run clear. James Martin did very well to parry Demidh’s initial effort, but the striker made no mistake when he was first to the rebound.
It could have been worse for Rainworth as Sports, with their tails up, went looking for more goals. Overlapping left back Warren Hatfield went close, Simeon Oshoboke just failed to make contact with a low cross from the left, and Hall hit a thumping 25-yarder against a post.
With Jamie Brown and Kieran Walker on Rainworth came more into the picture though, and Jordan Ball will feel he should have done better than to shoot wide when the ball fell to him after Walker had harried the home keeper into losing possession.
But it was essentially huff and puff until, in the 90th minute, the ball fell to Walker who, from 25 yards, drilled a sweet low drive into the corner.
Immediately three added minutes were announced, but there was to be no grandstand finish as Sports took the three points their overall superiority deserved.
MICKLEOVER: C. Martin, Bryant, Hatfield, Walshe (Ritchie-Smith 88), Wiley, Di Girolamo, Webster, Hall, Oshoboke, Demidh (Davidson 85), McGhie (Grayson 88).
RAINWORTH: J. Martin, Gregory, Dudley, Lloyd, Varley, Saunders, Hanson, Rickards (Walker 67), Longstaff (Clarke 28), Ball, Hawkins (Brown 57).
REFEREE: David Benton of Sheffield.
WRENS’ MAN OF THE MATCH: James Martin.