Rainworth went down 4-1 at home to Spalding United on Tuesday night.
This clash was never going to be an easy game, but it got a great deal harder when Rainworth could only field a 13-man squad because of work commitments.
That task got even harder still when after only three minutes an innocuous Spalding cross wasn’t challenged and the ball fell invitingly for Jamie Thurlborne, who drove his shot into the far corner for the opening goal.
A minute later Rainworth went straight down the other end and when Matt Jones’s shot was deflected, Craig Mitchell was on hand to head in the equaliser.
After the initial goal flourish the game then began to settle with both sides creating chances, although neither were able to provide the finishing touch.
In the 13th minute Spalding’s Mitchell Griffiths should have done better, but shot over the bar when well placed.
Then it was Rainworth’s turn as a good move between Oliver Brock and Tristram Whitman ended with Whitman’s shot being blocked.
Spalding however were the team creating the better chances and in the 20th minutes Tom Walmsley had Liam Roberts at full stretch, only for the ball to go the wrong side of the upright.
Then it was Griffiths turn to threaten the Rainworth goal but his goal bound shot appeared to take a deflection off a Rainworth defender, however the referee awarded a goal kick, as Spalding protested in vain.
Rainworth once again produced a half chance but Grant Ryan’s effort was well over as he came under pressure from the Spalding defenders.
Spalding’s Lewis Webb should probably have done better when in the 39th minute he shot wide from a very good position.
Just as it looked that Rainworth would reach half time with the scores level, Spalding struck in the last minute of the half. This time after a neat passing move the ball found Tom Walmsley, the finish matched the move and it was Spalding who ended the half with a slender lead.
Spalding came out for the second half with renewed determination and in the 48th minute should have added to their score when Griffiths found Walmsley who somehow failed to convert the simple chance.
In quick succession Kern Miller’s shot on the turn and Adam Jackson’s drive flashed by the Rainworth goal as a third Spalding goal looked inevitable. The fact they didn’t was more down to their inability to convert their chances than Rainworth’s defending.
When the third eventually came in the 78th minute, it was in rather bizarre circumstances as Jackson’s cross struck Jack Andrews and fell into Walmsley’s path and this time he didn’t miss, coolly placing it into the corner of the net.
Spalding should have added to their tally shortly afterwards when Ryan Oliver somehow failed to connect with the goal beckoning.
Rainworth almost pulled one back in the 82nd minute when Alton Rennalls found Mitchell, only for Michael Duggan to pull off an excellent save at the expense of a corner.
The Spalding dominance finally told when in the 83rd minute with them through on goal, Tommy Hannigan played the ball with his hand, unfortunately for him it was spotted by the officials.
Tom Walmsley was given the opportunity to claim a well-earned hat-trick unfortunately for him his penalty struck the post and was cleared.
Shortly afterwards Walmsley appeared to pull a hamstring but he had to soldier on, barely able to walk, as Spalding had used up their quota of substitutes.
The final ignominy was that in the final minute Mitchell’s goal line clearance fell straight to Walmsley who only had to kick it to finally complete his hat-trick, to complete a 4-1 victory.
Rainworth: Roberts; Coupe; Andrews; Freeman; Hannigan; Rennalls; Jones (Richards); Mitchell; Ryan; Whitman; Brock (J. Brown).