Royal Visit a Damp Squib!!
Today’s Evo-Stik Division One South game against Sutton Coldfield Town (The Royals) in the play-off positions, and Rainworth, was spoilt by the windy conditions.
Sutton Coldfield came in the hope of cementing their play-off chances, whilst Rainworth were hoping to get back on the winning trail after two losses in matches they had opportunities to win. In a match were the wind dominated neither did enough to enhance their current league positions.
Sutton Coldfield kicked off with the strong wind at their backs, but it was Rainworth who nearly took the lead in the 10th minute when Ashley Longstaffe’s 30 yard shot was only just prevented from crossing the line by a desperate Lee Evans save.
Shortly afterwards Mark Dank’s free-kick was headed over for a corner as Sutton Coldfield came back in to the game, and from the resulting corner Joel Kettle hit his shot over the bar, as they took advantage of the wind.
Rainworth were still continuing to cause problems and after good interplay they were thwarted when Longstaff was flagged offside. Yet another good Rainworth move broke down when James Cullingworth’s cross was gathered by Evans.
As the wind strengthened Sutton must have thought they had broken the dead-lock in the 33rd minute as Luke Chapman’s free-kick evaded everyone only for James Martin to make a finger-tip save.
Rainworth were struggling to break out of their half as Sutton utilised the conditions, Dank’s had a shot that was well over, before seeing his run and shot saved by Martin at the second attempt. Martin was to make an even better save a couple of minutes later, although it was to be to no avail as the linesman was already flagging for offside.
Just before the half time whistle Jamie Clarke was shown a yellow card for use of the elbows and he was lucky it ended there as he continued to protest his innocence. Rainworth were the happier of the two teams having negotiated the strong wind that had been like a ‘twelfth man’ for Sutton.
Rainworth started the second half by bringing on Matt Varley for the injured Cullingworth and they soon were on the attack, utilising the conditions. Scott Rickards set up Purcicoe, whose fierce shot was only gathered by Evans at the second attempt.
Sutton still posed a threat, but Dank’s scuffed shot was well wide of the target. Then a moment when Rainworth must have wondered how they didn’t score. From a corner the ball ping-ponged in the Sutton six-yard box only requiring a touch, the ball however somehow found its way into the grateful arms of Evans.
This was to be Evans last piece of action as he was replaced by Lewis Gwilliams, after suffering a hip injury. This didn’t weaken the position as he brilliantly parried Longstaff’s goal-bound shot and then dove bravely at the feet of Clarke to prevent him taking advantage.
Sutton brought on a couple of substitutes but from a long Varley throw, Sam Saunder’s powerful header flashed just the wrong side of the upright. Then a controversial incident in the 65th minute, Scott Lycett’s mistimed tackle on Mark Dudley was rightly penalised with a yellow card. However he must have said something as he protested and the referee showed him a red and Sutton were down to ten men.
Rainworth failed to make the most of the advantage, but Saunders so nearly scored with a fine header from Varley’s long throw only to see Gwilliams make a finger-tip save. The final action of the game saw Rainworth come so near to scoring when Callum Lloyd’s shot beat the keeper but grazed the top of the cross-bar. The game ended as it had begun with both sides score-less.
On a day when it was hard to see why either side could be considered serious play-off contenders, it could be argued the windy conditions were a factor, although neither side possessed the ruthless fire-power needed to be victorious.
RAINWORTH: Martin; Purcicoe; Dudley; Lloyd; Walker; Saunders; Cullingworth (Varley 45); Magee; Longstaff; Clarke; Rickards. Subs (Not used): Gregory; Hawkins; Bowles; Rogers.
Referee: Paul Vardy (Sheffield)
Man of match: James Martin