Rainworth had Grove doubts about today’s fixture!!
Today’s Evo-Stik Division One South game against Kidsgrove Athletic was a potential ‘banana skin’ for Rainworth.
This season Kidsgrove are lingering near the bottom of the table, this and Rainworth poor record against them of one win in their six meetings and Rainworth never excel in fixtures like this.
Rainworth went into the fixture without ever present Sam Saunders, undoubtedly this seasons leading player, serving a one match ban after accruing five yellow cards. The early exchanges were all Rainworth as they went on the attack, putting Kidsgrove on the back foot. They nearly took the lead in the 8th minute when a Matt Varley long throw was headed on by Kieran Walker and Jordan Ball’s goal bound shot was fortuitously blocked. In the next attack James Cullingworth crossed and only a last minute clearance by Wayne Johnson prevented Ball from scoring.
It was all Rainworth and in the 13th minute Ashley Longstaff must have thought he’d scored only for Paul Taylor to kick it off the line. Longstaff then combined with Jamie Clarke, whose fierce shot only just cleared the crossbar. Just when Kidsgrove thought they had rode the storm a 19th minute pin-point cross from Cullingworth was met by Longstaff, whose bullet header gave the keeper no chance. It was a goal that would have graced any match and Kidsgrove could have no complaints in going a goal down.
Rainworth continued to have the lion’s share of the play and in the 25th minute Clarke was through on goal but his shot went wide of the far post. It took Kidsgrove until the 32nd minute to have their first real chance on goal, but James Martin managed to thwart Shane Reaney. The half ended with Rainworth deservedly leading by the only goal of the match, but would they be made to rue those missed opportunities in the second half?
The second half nearly saw Kidsgrove equalise as Michael Carr’s effort hit the post, it fell to Matt Haddrell whose fierce volley was instinctively turned over the bar by Martin. Four minutes later it was Haddrell’s turn to hit the post, and after such dominance Rainworth could easily have found themselves behind. Then in the next attack Rainworth went upfield and Cullingworth’s teasing cross wasn’t cleared and Clarke drove his shot into the corner of the goal.
Rainworth then brought on Jack Hawkins for Ball, but it was Chris Smith who had the next chance, only to see his well struck shot go the wrong side of the post. Another Rainworth substitution sae Ricky Hanson come on for Clarke as they battled for supremacy and it was Hanson who put the ball wide when well placed.
Kidsgrove still hadn’t given up hope of getting back into the game and Haddrell’s free-kick just flashed past the angle. Hanson was involved in the next attack as his cross was headed goal bound by Longstaff only for Danny Read to somehow get his hand to it and deflect it onto the bar. Chris Smith hit yet another shot over the bar as Rainworth made their final substitution when Scott Rickards replaced Cullingworth.
Rainworth were playing a dangerous game as they seemed content to play out the final minutes and claim the victory. With two minutes to go it almost backfired as form a free kick Kidsgrove scored, there was some doubt as to the scorer but it was claimed by Adam Matranga, although there was a suspicion of an own goal.
With hardly any time left it appeared as though Rainworth were trying to throw it away in a game that for the most part they had the upper hand, At the final whistle there was relief that Rainworth had laid to rest the ‘Kidsgrove bogey’ and deservedly taken all three points.
RAINWORTH: Martin; Walker; Dudley; Lloyd; Varley; Gregory; Cullingworth (Rickards 84); Magee; Longstaff; Clarke (Hanson 68); Ball (Hawkins 59). Subs (not used): Rogers; Jackson.
Referee; Mr Alix Pashley.
Man of Match; Matt Varley.