Rainworth through three points away as Sheffield seal late fightback

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Struggling Rainworth let three vital points slip after concending two late goals to Sheffield FC to lose 3-2.

It was the start of ten cup finals where points mattered more than performances if Rainworth where to have any chance of avoiding relegation.

After a steady start Sheffield totally dominated the first 20 minutes and deserved to be in the lead with some fans thinking there would be a repeat of the 5-0 defeat at Sheffield earlier in the season.

Sheffield took the lead in the 10th minute when the ball found Thomas and his clinical volley gave Reay no chance.

Sheffield were now well on top and with better finishing could well have added to their tally.

Rainworth started to come into the game and a Danny Williams break down the left came to nothing as the weak cross was easily cleared.

That wasn’t the case in the 24th minute when a Williams free-kick was only blocked by Eastwood and Dean Freeman was a whisker away from getting the equaliser.

It was the start of a period of Rainworth dominance and Gino Kelleher’s and Darren Mansaram’s efforts in quick succession were well saved by Eastwood the second at the expense of a corner.

The 27th minute saw Longstaff clear off his line as the Sheffield goal led a charmed life and in a game were Sheffield looked the only winner, it was now in the balance.

A mistake by debutant Elliott Hodgett-Young almost gifted Longstaff, but his tame effort was easily gathered by Reay.

The 34th minute saw Rainworth at their most frustrating when an excellent passing move came to nothing because the final pass was over-hit.

The 40th minute saw Glodi Bange replace Emeka Nwadike, who was unable to continue after sustaining an injury.

The final minutes saw Sheffield back on the attack and, in added time, Longstaffe had his shot saved at full stretch by Reay and with the last kick of the half Hodgett-Young cleared off the line.

Sheffield probably should have been a couple of goals to the good, but Rainworth had shown enough in the half to give their fans hope.

Sheffield started the second half as they had ended the first on the front foot, but Rainworth defended well.

It was Sheffield’s turn in the 59th minute and Rainworth were lucky as Thomas’s shot hit the underside of the bar and was cleared.

Still Rainworth pressed and from a corner Mansaram’s looping header was gathered under the cross-bar by Eastwood. Graham then put his effort just over as the pressure mounted on the Sheffield goal.

They got their reward in the 65th minute when, after good hold up play by Graham, the ball found Brown and his cross was put in by Bange.

It was no more than Rainworth deserved and they were now well in the contest.

Sheffield still had their moments and it was Thomas again who hit a shot just wide. They were however fortunate in the 69th minute when Graham’s block of an attempted clearance was only half-stopped by Eastwood, who was grateful for a defender clearing it off the line.

The game was being played at a fast and furious pace and when James Gregory crossed Longstaff should probably have done better as he boomed his effort well over.

Rainworth however weren’t to be denied and in the 73rd minute it was Graham again holding up the ball, this time setting Kelleher up, who made no mistake to give them the lead.

It could have been even worse for Sheffield as a couple of minutes later Graham appeared to be brought down from behind in the penalty area and Sheffield were mighty relieved when the referee inexplicably waved play on.

But an 80th minute incident summed up Rainworth’s luck this season when Joel Purkiss’s shot was flying well wide when it struck Hodgett-Young in the face and diverted into the goal for the equaliser.

The young Rainworth side were visibly deflated and to add insult to injury Sheffield’s Longstaff then put them in front from their very next attack.

Rainworth brought on Grant Ryan for Brown and Oliver Brock for Josh Raven as they went all out for the equaliser.

It was Longstaff again who had the next chance but his effort flew well over.

Rainworth wouldn’t lie down and Freeman’s thunderous volley just flew the wrong side of the upright with Eastwood well beaten.

There was still time for one last effort and Mansaram put the ball in the net only for Rainworth once again to be denied by an offside flag. The decision looked harsh and it was to prove the final chapter in what had been a very eventful game.

Sheffield deserved their early lead and will probably think they should have added to it. Rainworth however must take great credit for their battling display and will look at three decisions and a pure fluke that had cost them getting anything from a game that at one stage looked beyond them.

RAINWORTH: Reay; Raven (Brock); Nwadike (Bange); Freeman; Hodgett-Young; E.Brown (Ryan); Ofushine; Kelleher; Graham; Mansaram; Williams. Subs (not used): Sylla; I.Robinson.

Referee: Mr. Ian Smedley.

Man of match: Romaine Graham.