Result decided by Referee.
Today’s Evo-Stik South fixture between Rainworth and Newcastle Town, produced a game of the highest order. It is unfortunate that a contentious refereeing decision in the final minute will be the topic of discussion and not the quality of the play.
The game between two of the form teams in the division promised much and it certainly didn’t disappoint, with both teams producing performances that auger well for the future. Newcastle came to Kirklington Road boasting a victory against leek Town, a feat only achieved by two other teams, one being Rainworth.
Newcastle were the first to threaten when in the 5th minute Jordan Cole’s shot was well saved by James Martin. It didn’t take Rainworth long to reciprocate when Jack Hawkins hit his shot wide when well placed. The game was evenly poised in a game where both sides attempted to play good football but neither side could produce the killer ball.
Rainworth had opportunities but in the 16th minute Mark Dudley’s shot was wide and James Cullingworth’s cross was tipped over by Dave Parton at the expense of a corner. Newcastle countered when after a good move Tim Saunder’s shot just cleared the crossbar.
The 27th minute almost saw Rainworth open the scoring as from a Newcastle mistake their attempts to score were thwarted as the ball was scrambled clear. This was quickly followed by an Ashley Longstaff shot that was easily saved, he had the ball in the net on 31 minutes but it was disallowed for offside.
The game ebbed and flowed and both sides had chances, but neither side could take advantage, as both they struggled for ascendency. Newcastle almost opened their account when in the 34th minute Tim Saunder’s fierce shot was brilliantly parried by Martin, who was able to gather the ball before anyone could capitalise.
Rainworth suffered a body blow in the 41st minute when leading scorer Longstaff pulled up injured and was replaced by Liam Theakstone. The game was moving into the final minute of the half when Newcastle broke and Jordan Cole found Luke Askey, his well struck shot found the bottom corner of the net to give them a 1-0 half-time lead.
Newcastle had the better of the early first half exchanges and they looked to have increased their lead as James Askey’s fierce drive was turned into the net by Jordan Cole. The celebrations were short lived as the goal was disallowed for off-side.
The next chance fell to Saunder’s from Luke Askey’s pass, but the shot went wide. Rainworth finally got the equaliser their play merited, when from a Scott Rickards corner Leon Ashman could only help the ball over the line as he desperately tried to prevent it crossing the line.
A period of Rainworth dominance followed when in the 72nd minute from a Rickard’s free-kick, Cullingworth’s header was well saved. In the 76th minute Rainworth should have scored when Matthew Bowles put Theakstone through, but his shot went the wrong side of the post.
Newcastle continued to threaten and a fine run and shot by Tim Saunders went just over the bar. The 80th minute produced yet another talking point when Varley’s header was cleared as it appeared to cross the line, the referee waved play on and how Rainworth must have wished that goal-line technology was available.
Newcastle still had attacking intent and in the 81st minute Tim Saunders broke away but his shot was wide of the target. They came even closer in the 90th minute when Jordan Cole’s shot was brilliantly saved by Martin.
Just as it appeared the game would end in stalemate, Tim Saunders broke away, he was caught by Sam Purcicoe who appeared to win the race for the ball, the referee however saw differently and awarded a free-kick and Purcicoe was shown a red card.
The decision was greeted with disbelief from some quarters and jubilation from others, I would love to have been privy to the assessors report on his take of the incident. The subsequent fee-kick was brilliantly struck by Saunders to give Newcastle the lead.
Shortly afterwards the whistle went for full-time and what had been an absolute cracker of a game left many in the crowd feeling cheated by what they considered a contentious refereeing decision. It was sad that the major talking point was the award of the free-kick and the sending off in a game that had done the Evo-Stik league proud.
RAINWORTH: Martin; Purcicoe; Dudley; Lloyd; Walker; Varley; Cullingworth; Magee; Longstaff (Theakstone 41); Rickards; Hawkins (Bowles 78). Subs (not used): Green; Rogers; Saunders.
Referee: Chris Akers.
Man of Match: Jack Hawkins.