Depleted Rainworth were unlucky as Belper played their ‘Get out of Jail Card’ in Saturday’s 2-2 draw at the Evo-Stik Division One South play-off chasers.
The game kicked off with both sides finding the winter sun a problem, but without the gale force winds of the previous day.
It was Belper who made the first effort on goal when Cameron Stuart’s long range free kick was easily gathered by James Martin.
Both sides were struggling to gain the ascendency and in the 12th minute Mark Dudley’s free kick was headed on by Jamie Clarke, but Ashley Longstaff’s driven cross found no takers.
This signalled a period of Rainworth pressure as first Scott Rickards’ free kick flashed by the post and then a misunderstanding in the Belper defence almost gifted Longstaff a goal, but the ball just cleared the bar.
Belper retaliated when Simon Harrison’s free kick was tipped over by Martin.
Callum Lloyd was penalised and shown a yellow card for what appeared to be a fair challenge, the referee, however, deemed he had played the man first. Stuart’s free kick looked to be goal bound only for Kieran Walker to block it on the line.
Both sides continued to have chances as Rainworth’s Damien Magee hit his 30-yard shot just over the bar, and in the 36th minute Jon Froggatt saw his free kick clip the crossbar and go over for a goal kick.
As the half was coming to an end Rainworth had their best chance when Longstaff’s shot was blocked by the keeper and Clarke’s follow-up was kicked off the line, when in truth they should have scored. The half ended scoreless with both sides having periods of dominance but with no end product.
The second half kicked off with Rainworth on the offensive and within a minute Clarke shot wide when well placed, and Hawkins set up Longstaff whose shot found the side netting.
In a rare Belper passing move, Matthew Varley was booked for a crude block on a Belper forward.
Shortly afterwards Longstaff set up Clarke, but his shot was blocked at the expense of a corner. Then came the match talking point. Simon Harrison was through on goal, when a last ditch Sam Purcicoe tackle appeared to bring him down and the ball was collected by Martin.
The Belper faithful, whether 20 yards or a 120 yards away, screamed for a penalty. However, the referee waved play on when on another day it may have been given.
The play quickly moved into the Belper half and Longstaff had two efforts in quick succession, the first blocked, the second nearly beating the keeper, who just about kept it out, such was the power. Belper went straight down the other end and Martin saved well, however, the rebound fell to Mark Shaw who gleefully hit it into the net, only to be ruled offside.
Once again the Belper faithful reacted, but in the assistant’s defence he had the flag up well before the ball crossed the line.
Ashley Longstaff, who was having an influential part in the game, found his way into the referee’s book for something he said.
Shortly afterwards in the 73rd minute from a corner, Kieran Walker rose above everyone to score with a powerful header.
Belper started to pressure the Rainworth defence and in the 79th minute Martin could only palm a shot and the danger was only averted when he dived on the loose ball.
Rainworth still had plenty of attacking ideas, and when Clarke found Longstaff, his shot beat the keeper and went into the net to put the Wrens 2-0 up and in charge.
Rainworth substituted Matthew Bowles for Hawkins and shortly afterwards he was booked for a lunging tackle.
With the game going into injury time Belper were awarded a free kick, and from it Chris Adam volleyed the resultant chance into the net.
From the kick-off Rainworth once again threatened the Belper goal as Longstaff’s pass set up Clarke. However, he screwed the gilt-edged chance wide.
That miss was to come back to haunt them as, from yet another Belper free kick, the ball fell kindly for Chris Adam to hit the equaliser.
Shortly afterwards the whistle went for full-time with the scores equal.
Last season Rainworth went to Christchurch Meadow and left 2-1 victors. This year they were disappointed in conceding two late goals and not having repeated the feat.
RAINWORTH: Martin; Purcicoe; Dudley; Lloyd; Walker; Varley; Rickards; Magee; Longstaff; Clarke; Hawkins (Bowles 81). Subs not used: Rogers; Green; Saunders; Cullingworth.
REFEREE: Dave Benton.
WRENS’ MAN OF THE MATCH: Kieran Walker.