Maradona revisits Nanpantan Sports Ground
Loughborough progressed in the Doodson Sports Cup at the expense of Rainworth, as Maradona makes a surprise appearance and 'hands' the home team the tie.
The match was a re-run of the opening match of the season, but both sides showed numerous changes through injury. Rainworth probably had the better of the early exchanges, and in the 18th minute Adam Murray combined with James Cullingworth to set up Callum Lloyd only for his shot to be tipped over the bar. Soon afterwards the tie began to swing towards Loughborough as they started to win more of the second balls.
The match turned in the 37th minute when Loughborough were awarded a free kick which Ash Way took and the ball appeared to have gone straight into the goal without anyone else involved. The referee thought so and awarded a goal and the announcer duly credited him with the goal. Those in close proximity of the goal knew differently, it came off Jake Betts forearm Maradonaesque’ and should have been disallowed. The referee however stuck to his original decision but the announcer now credited Betts with the goal. That was to be the final chance before the whistle sounded for half-time.
The second half started with Nathan Modest replaced Kieran Walker and in the 50th minute his chance on goal was cut short by an offside flag. Then to add insult to injury in the 53rd minute what can only be described as a bizarre goal when from a corner the ball struck the prone Dan Blair and diverted into the net.
This was to be the killer blow as whilst Rainworth played some nice approach play they lacked the ability in the final third to craft any goal worthy chances. There was the usual nearly moments, but never one you actually expected a goal to come from, a trait all too familiar this season. The same couldn’t be levelled at Loughborough who always looked threatening on the counter-attack.
Although gifted two goals, Loughborough rightly earned a penalty in the 89th minute when Matt Langham was brought down by Matt Varley. After a heated discussion, Langham convinced his team mates to allow him to take it. They were to regret the decision as Langham promptly hit his penalty wide of the post.
Both teams will return to league action on Saturday and on tonight’s showing neither will worry the teams at the top. In fairness to Loughborough they did find a way to put the ball over the line twice, something Rainworth must take onboard and quickly.
RAINWORTH: Martin; Cullingworth; Dudley; Lloyd; Varley; Saunders; Walker (Modest 45); Murray; Hanson; Clarke (Magee 65); Buttle. Sub (not used): Rickards.
Referee: Mr. J. Thornhill.
Man of Match; Callum Lloyd