The FA Trophy encounter between two NPL South sides Rainworth and Market Drayton promised to be a close affair.
Rainworth had been victorious in a seven goal thriller at Kirklington Road, but today’s fixture was at Market Drayton, who also were just one place higher in the league.
The game saw John Knapper replace Gary Sucharewycz as joint manager, Gary taking time out from the game because of work commitments.
It was a typical cup encounter with both sides contesting everything, without there ever being a malicious tackle on view.
It was therefore unbelievable that 5 yellow and 2 red cards were shown, all against Rainworth players, when the player who committed the most fouls wore a home shirt and wasn’t even spoken too.
When asked Ian Robinson Rainworth’s joint manager replied, ‘Refereeing decisions cost us today, in what was a great team performance.’
Within 26 seconds of the kick-off the first goal was scored and it was Rainworth who scored it. Alex Ford blocked a clearance and passed the ball to Craig Mitchell the cross found Grant Ryan whose shot found the back of the net.
Market Drayton had a chance in the 4th minute, but Alexander Hedley put his effort well over the bar.
A minute later Dean Freeman found Ford but his inviting cross evaded everyone when a touch was all that was required.
Freeman was the next to threaten, but his shot was easily gathered by Daniel Read. This was quickly followed by a Ryan effort, but he miskicked the difficult chance and it went out for a goal kick.
Market Drayton’s Jordan Johnson then outpaced Tommy Hannigan, but his well hit shot cleared the crossbar. A minute later he created another chance but his tame effort was easily gathered by Liam Roberts.
Roberts then showed what a good shot stopper he is when he held Cohen Bramall’s free-kick at full stretch.
Then chances at either end Joseph Woolley put his effort well over the Rainworth crossbar. This was followed by Mitchell’s free-kick that saw Freeman ghost in at the far post but Read easily gathered.
The final effort of the half fell to Johnson, but his shot was wide and the whistle went with Rainworth just about value for their slender lead.
Just as in the first half the first, only this time it was Market Drayton’s William Whieldon who almost equalised only to see Roberts tip his effort over.
In the 49th minute Bramall found Woolley, but his cross was easily cleared by Freeman.
Then Rainworth players acquired two yellow cards within the space of a couple of minutes which I’m at a loss to say why, given similar incidents by the opposition had gone unpunished.
Market Drayton’s persistence paid when in the 60th minute Rainworth failed to pick up Bramall from a corner and he headed home the equaliser.
Whilst they were still celebrating the goal Rainworth went straight down the other end, debutant Alex Kenlock won the ball and crossed for Ford. His first attempt beat the keeper and hit the upright but he hit an unstoppable shot that was never being saved to put Rainworth once more in front.
Shortly after the goal Ford was booked for a mistimed challenge, somewhat strange when others had been ignored.
It was Ford again who outpaced the defence but his cross was too near to Read and the keeper easily gathered.
Rainworth had the next chance when in the 78th minute Kenlock created space but his effort was always going the wrong side of the far post.
It was another Bramall free-kick that almost brought the scores level only for Roberts to save brilliantly. A minute later David Harry somehow manages to clear the crossbar when well placed.
The 83rd minute saw Mitchell booked for an innocuous challenge and inexplicably the referee produces a yellow card, his second leading to his dismissal.
From the resultant free-kick Whieldon’s effort is well saved by Roberts and Rainworth bring on Oliver Brock for Kenlock to shore up the midfield.
The final minutes of the half are hard to comprehend when a clear foul on Hannigan goes unpunished and as he tries to regain his balance the ball strikes his arm the referee awards a penalty.
Woolley steps up and converts it and to make matters worse Freeman is dismissed for dissent, leaving Rainworth to defend the last two minutes with nine men.
They managed to negotiate that without any further damage, but on the final whistle what should have been a Rainworth victory had the feel of a defeat.
The tie will now be played to a finish at Rainworth .on Tuesday evening, with Kings Lynn awaiting the winners.
RAINWORTH: Roberts; Andrews; T.Brown; Hannigan; Freeman; Rennalls; Jones; Mitchell; Ford; Kenlock (Brock); Ryan. Subs: Whitman; Richards; Coupe.
Referee: Richard Gould.
Man of the match: Liam Roberts.