Rainworth made to rue their slow start
By Paul Fryer
Player unavailability had already stretched the Rainworth squad for today’s game at Clifton and when Connor Wright was rushed into hospital in midweek with appendicitis it couldn’t have got much worse, or could it?
Well it did when influential forward Ethan Knowles felt a twinge in the warm-up and was put on the bench as a precaution. Rainworth started the game with a strong wind at their backs and struggled badly failing to use it to their advantage, overhitting the majority of their passes.
Rainworth went close to opening the scoring in the 5th minute when Joe Toon’s free kick was flicked just wide of the upright by Jason Gregory. It was Clifton however who came to terms the quickest and Jurgen Charlesworth failed to test Joe McCormack when well placed. A couple of minutes later the same player fell over in the penalty area but the referee waved play on. Rainworth failed to heed the warnings and when Jevin Seaton found Charlesworth with an excellent ball in the 20th minute, his curling shot beat McCormack at the near post for the opener.
Declan Brewin almost brought parity in the 32nd minute with a driving run and shot that Jason Kirk only managed to gather at the second attempt. At the other end Charlesworth continued to be a threat but McCormack was his equal.
Rainworth at last started to threaten and with the best passing move of the half Brewin put his effort inches over, then an excellent Toon free kick was headed out for a corner. As the referee blew for half time the Rainworth players felt aggrieved that he hadn’t added any time on for Clifton’s blatant time wasting.
Rainworth started the second half well creating more opportunities in the first ten minutes than they had for the whole of the first half. However, just as it appeared, they would equalise a wayward clearance found Sam Leggitt 35 yards out and his wind-assisted effort gave McCormack no chance for Clifton’s second.
Rainworth immediately made a substitution bringing on Knowles for Sam Robinson and the nippy forward had an immediate impact as Kirk just manages to gather Ben Copestake’s cross at the second attempt. McCormack had to be on his toes when Ben Clark’s effort aided by the wind was diverted for a corner.
Rainworth pressed hard and Ben Burbank’s effort was blocked by Theo Smith and from the resultant Knowles corner, three Rainworth heads were inches from pulling a goal back. On 69 minutes Toon’s free kick was gathered by Kirk on the goal line.
A minute later Burbanks laid the ball back into Charlie Hardwick’s path but his effort was well over. Burbanks wastes a glorious opportunity when well placed sending his effort into orbit.
Whilst Rainworth strived for a goal, Matt Jelfs reminded them of the wind advantage Clifton had when his long-range effort went inches wide. Rainworth thought they had pulled a goal back in the 80th minute when Burbanks cross is hit goal wards by Brewin but it takes a wicked deflection looping into Kirks grateful arms. Rainworth make their second substitution bringing on Adon Spencer for Gregory.
In a manic spell for Rainworth Burbanks rounds the defender and as he bears down on goal he is brought down from behind and Rainworth appeal for a penalty. It is deemed just outside the area and the subsequent free kick is blocked. Rainworth make their final substitution bringing on Shomari Doyle for Toon.
With the minutes ticking by both sides are getting desperate, Rainworth in their search for a goal and Clifton with their last-ditch tackles trying to deny them. Burbanks is once again brought down on the edge of the area but this time from the free kick he sets up Brewin who finds the bottom corner. Pressure builds in the final minutes with Rainworth camped in the Clifton half and the home side trying to eat up the time.
In the final minute Brewin’s effort goes agonisingly inches over and as yet more time is wasted Burbanks loses his cool and the referee sends him to the sin bin. Whilst their can be sympathy for his frustrations there can be none for the way he expressed them. Seconds later the referee blew for full time leaving Rainworth to rue their inept first half performance with the wind at their backs.
RAINWORTH MWFC: McCormack; Burbanks; Toon (Doyle); Herbert; Timmons; Gregory (Spencer); Copestake; Hardwick; Brewin; Pursglove; Robinson (Knowles)
Sub (not used): Smith
Referee: Mr William Booth