Rainworth danced to a different Toon.
By Paul Fryer
Rainworth MWFC began their season at home against a strong and physical Ingles, who had won both the home and away fixtures last season. Pre-season had been mixed and with only one keeper, of the four in the squad, available due to suspension and injuries
All seemed to be going well until the 36th minute, with Rainworth leading 1-0, keeper Gavin Saxby sustained an injury when blocking a goal bound effort. After lengthy treatment he bravely attempted to carry one, nine minutes later now a mere passenger and having been unable to move to prevent Lathan Hammond’s equaliser, one he would normally have saved if fit, he was replaced.
Joe Toon who had started the match at left back was Saxby’s replacement between the posts, the fans feared the worst, although an excellent outfield player, goalkeepers are a specialised position. The next forty-fifty plus minutes proved Toon, despite conceding Ingles second, could seriously be considered if needed as a goalkeeper for the next match. The highlight of his tenure was an incredible one handed acrobatic save, from Dan Tuck’s pile-driver, turning it onto the crossbar.
The game started at a frenetic pace with Ben Burbanks making an excellent block at the expense of a corner as Ingles pressed for the opening goal. At the other end a good interchange of passing between Aiden Harris and Ethan Knowles almost broke the deadlock, then Harris put Declan Brewin clear, but his effort hit the side-netting. Rainworth continued to have the better of the exchanges and Ryan Thacker did well to win the race for the ball as Knowles bore down.
In the 23rd minute an excellent interchange between Knowles and Brewin saw Brewin’s effort deflected for a corner. Knowles corner found Brewin who managed to tee up Harris and despite a desperate effort to clear Ingles couldn’t prevent the ball crossing the line for the opening goal.
At this stage Rainworth were dominating and an excellent Burbanks run and pass saw the ball taken off Brewin’s toes and only inches wide of being an own goal. From Knowles corner Harris rose high and headed into the net, but the joy was short-lived as it was disallowed for an infringement.
Ingles started to come back into the game and Sean Woolley’s shot on the turn went wide and Burbanks was doing an excellent job defusing the dangerous crosses. The scores should have been level in the 35th minute when Billy Blackshaw somehow overran the ball with Saxby beaten. A minute later the incident that had a major bearing on the course of the match when Saxby made an excellent goal-line block from Lathan at the expense of a corner. However, after lengthy treatment Saxby bravely continued.
Rainworth had a lucky escape in the 40th minute when Blackshaw’s shot hit the upright and went out for a goal-kick. As the game went into injury time a defensive error presented Hammond with an opportunity which he took, beating the injured Saxby with an effort he would have normally saved. Rainworth immediately substituted Saxby with Rob Paling and Toon donned the gloves. There were only seconds remaining before the referee blew for half-time with the scores level.
The opening minutes of the second half saw Ingles in the ascendency as they took advantage of a Rainworth side struggling to regroup from the loss of their keeper. An excellent passage of play saw Ingles breach the Rainworth defence and Woolley coolly placed the ball in the far corner, giving Toon no chance to give them the lead.
Rainworth made their second substitution in the 56th replacing Knowles with Josh Asuman. Minutes later Toon pulled off an excellent one-handed acrobatic save from Dan Tuck, turning it onto the crossbar and out. Ingles continued to capitalise as Kyle Fowkes put his effort well over when well placed. A minute later the excellent Burbanks blotted his copy book when his suicidal back-pass set up Latham, but he hits it well over.
This seemed to galvanise Rainworth and a determined piece of play saw them get into the Ingles penalty area for the first time in the half. The ball found Mark Robinson and his well struck shot took a slight deflection, finding the back of the net for the equaliser.
Rainworth now were on the front foot and a great ball from Ryan Herbert found Brewin whose run down the flank and then along the bye-line into the penalty area was only stopped by a desperate tackle at the expense of a corner. At this point Rainworth made their final substitution bringing on Callum Pursglove for Robinson. The change almost resulted in a Rainworth goal but Charlie Hardwick’s effort from the edge of the area flashed inches wide of the upright.
Both sides had chances in the final minutes but neither threatened the others goal. At the final whistle the scores were level with Rainworth left to wonder what might have been had Saxby not been injured. It had been a game were Rainworth had displayed a mixed bag, culpable for the first goal but one thing they had proved was they will battle to the end and that Toon is a better keeper than a stand-in.
Rainworth MWFC: Saxby (Paling); Burbanks; Toon; Herbert; Timmons; Wright; Knowles (Asuman); Hardwick; Brewin; Harris; Robinson (Pursglove).
Subs (not used): Doyle; Spencer.
Referee: Mr Alister Hayes.
Goalkeeper Gavin Saxby's injury has been diagnosed as a broken Fibula.