Late Starters always find life more difficult!!
Today’s Evo-Stik NPL Division One South match between Romulus and Rainworth at Coles Lane gave both teams an opportunity to put their case forward as play-off contenders.
Romulus were off to a fast start and in the 1st minute Cameron Lee’s effort was kicked off the line by Mark Dudley, Rainworth fought back, but Jamie Clarke’s 6th minute free-kick cleared the bar. At this stage both sides were struggling to get the upper hand in the encounter.
Then a ball found Danico Johnson and from his mazy run and cross, Craig Marshall side-footed it into the net, with 17 minutes on the clock. A minute later Marshall found himself through on goal but he skied the ball over the bar. In the 24th minute James Martin made a fine save from Tyron Amory’s shot and by this time most of the play was in the Rainworth half of the pitch.
In the 29th minute Rainworth conceded a free-kick and Robert Evans cross was headed home by Liam Francis to deservedly double Romulus’s lead. A couple of minutes later Thompson’s weak finish when well-placed let Rainworth off the hook, at this stage Rainworth had no answer to the quick Romulus breaks. The half time whistle went for a half that Rainworth didn’t turn up and they could find themselves fortunate only to be two goals in arrears.
The second half started much as the first half ended and Romulus have only themselves to blame for their poor return. In the 49th minute Martin was denied credit for his brilliant save from Marshall when the referee awarded a goal kick instead of the corner.
The 55th minute saw Rainworth substitute Jordan Ball for Jack Hawkins and as if by magic the whole game dynamics changed. It was Rainworth who took command and a minute later from James Cullingworth’s corner Kieran Walker headed home. It was all Rainworth and a Ball pass found Ashley Longstaff but his shot was easily gathered.
It now was looking as if Rainworth’s famed second-half charges would save the day and from a Matt Varley long throw Sam Saunders just headed wide. Jamie Clarke then had a shot saved by the keeper and whilst the first half had been dominated by Romulus, now it was Rainworth’s turn. Varley’s free-kick to Longstaff was easily saved, but Rainworth nearly paid the price for over committing when in a rare attack the ball found Marshall, but with the keeper out of position he missed.
The 77th minute saw Rainworth draw level when Cullingworth’s ball to Clarke was headed into the path of Longstaff and from 25 yards his shot wrong footed the keeper for the equaliser. Three minutes later Longstaff once again beats the keeper only to see it flash the wrong side of the goal.
Then just as it looked as if the only winner would be Rainworth, they were caught over committing and Luke Keen’s cross was fired home by Johnson, surely Rainworth couldn’t come back again? They nearly did in the next attack when only a desperate lunge by Francis prevented Clarke’s goal bound shot making it all square.
Rainworth threw caution to the wind and they were once again hit with the sucker punch as another mazy Johnson run and cross was fumbled and it gave Marshall his second goal. There was still time for Longstaff to have yet another header kicked off the line in a manic last ten minutes. This was to be the final chance of the match and Romulus ran out 4-2 winners.
Rainworth were to rue their lacklustre first-half performance and the gung-ho attacks in the final minutes that resulted in the concession of two goals. In truth as well as Rainworth fought in the second half it was Romulus’s first half display and Rainworth’s non-display that ultimately decided the game. This was highlighted by the fans choice of man of the match, when they awarded it to Jordan Ball who had only been on the field for 35 minutes in the second half!!
RAINWORTH: Martin; Walker; Dudley; Lloyd; Varley; Saunders; Cullingworth; Magee; Longstaff; Clarke; Hawkins (Ball 55). Subs (not used): Hanson; Gregory; Rickards; Rogers.
Referee: Simon Gudger
Man of match: Jordan Ball