RAINWORTH fans who made the trip to Coalville probably didn’t get much sleep last night after watching their side’s emphatic 5-1 win.
They will have been too busy pinching themselves and making sure they were not dreaming after 90 minutes in which they improved their season’s goal tally in the league by a massive 20 per cent.
The small but jubilant band of travelling fans hung back to treat their red-shirted, red-blooded heroes to a standing ovation as they left the field.
But that was nothing compared to the treat which those players had served up to the delight of their following.
It was, arguably, their best performance of the season—certainly it compared with the 3-0 home victory over play-off chasing Stamford in December, and when the news of defeats for Shepshed and Quorn came through it served only to heighten the joy, for those two now need a miracle if they are to close an 11-point gap with, in their cases, just six games to go.
The win also lifted the Wrens above Romulus to 19th, and there is also the benefit of a game still in hand on the three clubs now below them.
A member of the Quorn management team, in congratulating Rainworth boss Kev Gee afterwards, was heard to say: “If that’s how you play I can’t believe you are where you are in the league.” And he had good reason for his comment, for the Ravens went into the game on the back of a run of six without defeat, and only one loss in the last 10, whereas Rainworth had only that last gasp victory against Quorn as their one win in their last seven outings.
And it must be emphasised that Coalville were far from a poor side. They passed the ball around well and played with some flair at times, but they could not contain a rampant Wrens side who played as if they had three Shredded Wheats each for their tea.
Rainworth included the returning Jermain Hollis, back for his third spell with the Wrens, but Alessandro Barcherini donned the goalkeeper’s jersey despite the return of Joe McCormack, while Nathan Adams and Stephen Akers were also handed starting shirts up front.
It looked as if the form book was set to come out on top when a rare error by Danny Bacon in the 12th minute enabled Anthony Carney to spread the ball out to Karl Demidh, who finished with a great shot to beat Barcherini.
The Wrens were down to 10 men at the time with skipper Steve Kennedy being treated for a severe nose bleed.
With Kennedy back on and wearing number 17 because his number five shirt was bloodstained, Bacon might have atoned for his earlier error with a 25-yard attempt which was too high.
But the Wrens were back on terms in the 16th minute when Akers capitalised on what seemed a misunderstanding between home keeper Sean Bowles and one of his defenders which weakened Bowles’ attempted punch, Akers hitting the ball back into the pretty much unguarded net.
Cameron Stuart was close to restoring the Ravens’ lead in the 19th minute with a low, long range pot which whistled just wide, but it was Rainworth who grabbed a 24th minute advantage when Ryan Goward curled a delightful 23-yard free kick under the angle.
As both sides continued to provide first class entertainment for the sparse crowd it was Rainworth who were creating more, a typically strong run by Romaine Graham ending with a cross diverted for a corner, and the lively Niall O’Rafferty breaking through but lacking support when it mattered, and then being not quite able to get his head onto a Hollis free kick.
Meanwhile home defender Tom Kellogg, who had earlier escaped a booking for a blatant elbow, picked up a yellow card for a bad foul on Adams just before the break.
The pulsating entertainment continued into the second half with Lee Miveld going close for Coalville, but again it was Rainworth who made it count in the 56th minute. Home sub Danny Haynes had taken the ball off the toe of O’Rafferty as he was about to pull the trigger at the end of another great run, but O’Rafferty made no mistake from the ensuing corner, hitting home at the far post.
Back came Coalville and Barcherini did well to turn away Callum Woodward’s teasing cross.
It should have been 4-1 on the hour, O’Rafferty stabbing wide from Hollis’ probing run and cross. But the Wrens had only three more minutes to wait before they made the points safe. Adams rode a couple of foul challenges and was allowed to run on with the advantage, and when he got to the by-line and pulled back his centre Akers arrived to apply the finishing touch.
Still Coalville refused to lie down, and play continued to swing from end to end, while both the tiring O’Rafferty and Adams receiving warm applause as they were replaced in their turn by Ben Spargo and Ant Lynam. In between, Spargo had sent Adams on a clear run on goal, but somehow the unlucky striker contrivfed to leave the ball behind on the way.
Kellogg was sent off for a second booking in the 89th minute for a foul on Kennedy, and Rainworth capitalised on the extra man in the first minute of added time when Goward cut in from the right to hit home off the underside of the bar and complete a five star all round team performance.
COALVILLE: Bowles, Dodd, Stuart (Haynes 51), Brown, Kellogg, Roulston, Woodward (Robbins 68), Carney, Blenkinsop (Chatfield 82), Demidh, Miveld. Subs not used: Everitt, Quirke.
RAINWORTH: Barcherini, Graham, Goward, Camm, Kennedy, Cooksey, Hollis, Bacon, O’Rafferty (Spargo 71), Akes, Adams (Lynam 82). Subs not used: Glass, Toyne, Shaw.
REFEREE: Dumitra-Ravel Cheosiaua of Bournville, Birmingham.