Ben blows Wrens away to win family showdown
A 78th-minute strike by Ben Saunders blew away Rainworth’s hopes of a winning return to action after a three-week lay-off and gave promotion-chasing Coalville Town a league double and three more points in their quest for Premier Division football.
Saunders’ goal and the points gave him the family bragging rights over brother and Rainworth defender Sam, whose only consolation was the Rainworth man of the match accolade for his typically solid and energetic performance.
The match was ruined as a spectacle, though, by the very gale which had dried out the pitch after heavy overnight rain to ensure that the fixture was able to go ahead in the first place.
Neither side was able to capitalise when they had the benefit of the wind behind them, and when the Ravens notched the winning goal they had not only the intensifying gale to deal with, but also for a time driving rain.
Rainworth had been hit by the midweek departure of popular defender Kieran Walker who has gone to try his luck at Premier Division Grantham Town.
Walker’s place at the heart of the defence was taken by reserves defender Jobe Shaw, who has been playing for Shirebrook Town in order to gain experience of a higher level of football, having been knocking on the door of the Wrens’ first team previously.
Meanwhile there were home debuts for 17-year-old Regan Edridge from Chesterfield, and ex-Worksop Parramore striker Nathan Forbes-Swindells, while veteran ex-Middlesbrough and Doncaster Rovers striker Tris Whitman made his club debut from the bench for the final 10 minutes.
Forbes-Swindells might have marked his maiden home appearance with a goal inside the fourth minute but shot wide from inside the box.
Youngster Edridge did very well to break up a two-on-one sortie by the visitors, but the Ravens thought they had taken a 14th-minute lead when Anthony Carney got clear to slip the ball by James Martin, only for Shaw to charge back and clear the danger in bizarre but effective fashion off his own crossbar.
Constructive football was at a premium from both sides in the difficult conditions, but Rainworth were not completely pegged back, Callum Lloyd forcing Bowles to stretch up to save a shot from distance, and then Ashley Longstaff powered down the left only to undo his work with a poor cross.
Carney warmed Martin’s hands with a stinging drive in the 34th minute, and as Rainworth rode a spell of pressure which brought Coalville four corners in quick succession.
However, Shaw was disappointed to see his far post effort go behind off a defender four minutes later in the aftermath of a Wrens corner.
With the gale now at their backs, Rainworth should have taken the lead within seconds of the restart, but Lloyd’s shot was blocked by his own player, and when the ball fell kindly for Longstaff his finish from inside the six-yard box was weak and allowed Bowles to fall on the ball.
Like their visitors in the first half, Rainworth were not taking anything like full advantage of the prevailing conditions, although they were not afraid to try their luck from long range.
Ben Saunders sounded a warning for the visitors in the 63rd minute with an acute angled attempt which flew across goal wanting only a touch.
Both keepers then distinguished themselves with excellent saves—first Martin denied Jordan Nadat despite appearing to be unsighted until the last moment, then Bowles bettered that with a spectacular flying tip-over when Jack Hawkins’ teasing 30-yard free kick looked like dipping under the bar.
However, with Rainworth pushing on in numbers in search of a winner they were caught on the counter when a through pass found Ben Saunders in acres of space to give Martin no chance of saving.
Rainworth pressed hard in search of an equaliser, but were often undone by cruel bounces of the ball and, the more so, by Coalville’s well drilled defence, and really a leveller looked a long way off.
RAINWORTH: Martin, Varley, Dudley, Lloyd, Shaw, S. Saunders, Edridge, Magee, Longstaff, Forbes-Swindells (Clarke 68), Hawkins (Whitman 80). Subs not used: Rickards, M. Bowles, Rogers.
COALVILLE: S. Bowles, Miller, Stuart, Nadat (Lester 90+3), McAteer, Kay, Woodward, Hutchinson (Jenno 31), Carney, B. Saunders, Miveld. Subs not used: Davies, Evans, Moore.
REFEREE: David Sullivan of Sheffield.
WRENS MAN OF THE MATCH: Sam Saunders.