Losing run ends but first double still eludes Wrens
RAINWORTH finally ended their four-match losing run in the league, but their first double of the season still eludes them.
Armthorpe led at the break through a goal on the half-hour by Tom McLaughlin, but two early second half efforts in four minutes by Matt Plant and Liam Nelthorpe swung the pendulum the Wrens’ way—for all of two minutes before Josh Schofield levelled from the penalty spot.
And although both sides went all out for the winner in a much higher tempo second period there was no further score, with the woodwork at both ends playing a big part.
Rainworth had Ben Townsend in goal for his first competitive action between the sticks since his arrival from Worksop Town, and the availability of dual-registered Jordan Edridge meant that skipper Ricky Hanson, who has been carrying a niggling injury, could sit the game out on the bench, while Liam Morris returned to the side following his unavailability for the previous game, and took the armband.
The Wrens were 6-0 winners in the corresponding fixture at Kirklington Road in October, but while they went into this game on the back of four straight league defeats, struggling Armthorpe had given themselves some hope of avoiding the relegation trapdoor with three wins in their last four. So any thoughts of a repeat of that scoreline were far from realistic.
Townsend showed his prowess in the seventh minute, saving at point blank range from James Handley as Armthorpe were first out of the traps, but it was Rainworth who almost drew first blood six minutes later, good work by Liam Theakstone setting up Matt Thompson for a curling shot from the edge of the box that came back off a post.
Townsend was sprawling to save again from Handley shortly afterwards as the ball bobbled on the deceptively tricky surface, and as each side held the upper hand in turn, Morris saw his stooping, glancing header fly just the wrong side of the post from Theakstone’s cross.
But it was Armthorpe who grabbed the lead on the half-hour—and from a Rainworth corner. Countering swiftly down the right, Josh Gibbons picked out the run of McLoughlin with a perfect crossfield pass, and he easily beat the exposed and advancing Townsend.
Regan Edridge picked up an injury from a foul challenge by Armthorpe skipper David Buck, who saw a yellow card. And while the Wrens defender was receiving treatment off the field it took a well-timed challenge by Jack Andrews to whip the ball away from Schofield’s feet after he rounded Townsend and looked certain to double the Armthorpe advantage.
With Edridge unable to continue, Jack Barnett substituted just before the break, and there was still time for Theakstone to hit the side netting in the last notable action of a half in which the home side just about deserved their lead.
Within 23 seconds of the restart Morris attempted to tee up Theakstone in the six yard box but played the ball a whisker too far in front of him and the chance was gone, then five minutes in Morris saw his volley on the turn go to safety off the far post.
However, Rainworth were level two minutes later. The home defence failed to clear from a corner, and Matt Plant got the final touch to force it over the line.
That was the first of a six-minute three goal burst, but before the other two in that quickfire sequence Handley’s rather tame effort found a way through and came back off the post to the relief of the Wrens defenders.
Instead it was Liam Nelthorpe who found the net at the other end from close range from a right wing pull-back, with a suspicion that Morris may have got the final touch, although the ex-Clipstone man was credited.
The Wrens’ lead lasted just two minutes though, before Plant was penalised for a foul on former Wren Darren Mansaram in the box, and Schofield gave Townsend no chance from the spot.
It was now Armthorpe’s turn to raise their tempo again, with Schofield first firing wide from a good position and then seeing his 20-yard volley, destined for the top corner, superbly tipped over the bar by Townsend.
Both sides made substitutions, and the home side’s Stuart Preston waltzed his way through the defence only to hit the outside of the near post.
It was Rainworth who ended the stronger though. Jamie York opened up a chance for fellow sub Declan Brewin whose cross shot from the right beat the far post by a whisker.
And somehow the ball stayed out of the Armthorpe net when, after a desperate double save by Leigh Overton, Jordan Edridge’s downward header hit the foot of the post and the keeper was able to smother.
Finally, in the third minute of added time, another downward header by York was cleared off the Armthorpe line by Richard Smith to preserve a point for his side and deny Rainworth the win they so desperately need.
ARMTHORPE: Overton, Taylor, Buck, Gibbons, Smith, Walker, Handley (Mirfin 65), Penty, Schofield, Mansaram (Preston 74), McLaughlin. Subs not used: Parkhouse, Norbury, Biggs.
RAINWORTH: Townsend, J. Edridge, Smythe, Andrews, R. Edridge (Barnett 45+1), Plant, Thompson, Nelthorpe (York 71), Morris, Theakstone (Brewin 71), Sykes. Subs not used: Hanson, C. Widdowson.
REFEREE: Alix Pashley of Derbyshire.
WRENS MAN OF THE MATCH: Jordan Edridge.