Table Toppers Leek succumb once again to their Bogeymen!!
I have often wondered whom Robert Louis Stevenson based his novel The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde on. Now I know he must have been a Rainworth fan.
Earlier in the season Rainworth entertained Brigg Town who were bottom of the league with no wins and no points, they dominated every statistic but goals scored and promptly lost. Today they visited League leaders who have only lost one game this season, and that away, their home form read played eight, won seven and drawn one. A banker home, you must be joking where Rainworth are involved, they battled for the full ninety minutes and came out winners 1-0.
The Leek pitch is not one of the better surfaces in the league and today was no exception. It took eight minutes for either side to get a shot on goal and Mark Dudley’s effort flew high and wide. It took another fifteen minutes for the next as after a fine Rainworth move Jamie Clarke shot just over the bar. The only incident of note was Callum Lloyd’s booking in the 21st minute for delaying a free-kick, a decision that was disputed by some of the Rainworth following.
Neither side could find their rhythm on the bumpy surface but Leek nearly managed to score with their first attack of note in the 32nd minute. Rainworth had managed to defend the first effort at the expense of a corner, but from the corner only a fine punch from James Martin prevented a score. The ball fell to Dan Shelley whose shot cannoned off the post to safety.
That apart neither side could gain the upper hand, although both tried to play football on a surface that gave no assistance. The half-time whistle went with neither side able to break the deadlock in what was fast becoming a physical encounter.
The second half started with Rainworth on the attack and Dudley’s shot was well collected by the keeper. Leek were trying to respond and as the half progressed picked up the pace and chances were starting to be created. Although Rainworth were being pushed back they still posed a threat and James Cullingworth’s free-kick was just headed wide by Sam Saunders. Quickly after this a fine Leek move had the crowd rising in anticipation of a goal, only for a fine Kieran Walker block to leave them deflated. Sam Saunders was shown a yellow card for his misjudged tackle during this attack.
Just as it looked like the home side would be the first to score, Rainworth quickly moved the ball forward as Matt Varley found Grant Ryan and his cross was met by Jordan Ball, only for the keeper to save with his feet. Leek continued to pile on the pressure but a fine battling Rainworth rear guard thwarted their efforts to capitalise on their dominance.
Ashley Longstaffe replaced Grant Ryan and then Ricky Hanson for James Cullingworth as Rainworth replaced tired legs. Leek’s Andrew Kinsey was the next to have a shot but his effort was well gathered by Martin and shortly afterwards Clarke was given a yellow card for persistent infringements.
Leek were now having the lion’s share of the play but in the 89th minute a long ball found Longstaffe who rode the defender’s challenge and struck his shot into the far corner of the net. The stadium fell silent apart from the Rainworth fans who couldn’t contain their joy. Rainworth nearly added to this when on the break Ball beat a couple of men, but he tried it once too often and lost his footing, the ball running to the keeper. There was just time for Rainworth to make their final substitution with Jason Gregory coming on for Dudley before the final whistle.
Rainworth have played Leek seven times in the Evo-Stik leagues and are definitely one of their bogey sides having lost only one, winning five, Dr Jekyll was definitely on show today.
RAINWORTH: Martin; Walker; Dudley (Gregory 90); Lloyd; Varley; Saunders; Cullingworth (Hanson 78); Magee; Clarke; Ball; Ryan (Longstaffe 72). Subs (not used): Hawkins; Rickards.
Referee: Oliver Bickle.
Man of Match; Sam Saunders.