After last Saturday’s capitulation at Market Drayton by Rainworth, the visit of play-off hopefuls Gresley FC looked an away ‘banker’.
It wasn’t made any easier when the Wrens team-sheet showed three senior players were missing, leaving a very youthful line-up, which included Danny Williams who had returned from AFC Mansfield.
Gresley started the match looking like the play-off candidates they are and Rainworth were soon on the back foot.
In the eighth minute they almost took the lead as Kieran O’Connell was only denied by David Reay’s fine save.
It was only the foretaste in a half which for the most part Gresley would dominate and, in the 14th minute, Reay made an even better save to deny Luke Edwards effort.
Another effort from O’Connell just cleared the bar and then only a last gasp intervention from Williams at the expense of a corner prevented what seemed the inevitable Gresley goal.
However Gresley were given a scare when in the 21st minute Josh Raven’s long throw was headed on by Dean Freeman, but Elliot Brown’s header just cleared the bar with Liam Roberts a mere spectator.
This seemed to inspire Rainworth when minutes later Darren Mansaram had a chance but he put his effort well over.
Gresley however were undaunted and in the 31st minute only a timely intervention by Romaine Graham prevented their elusive first goal. This was quickly followed by an O’Connell effort that just cleared the upright.
The half ended with Alex Steadman hitting the post when it seemed easier to score, after yet another fine Gresley attack.
On the half-time whistle Gresley must have been wondering if they would ever score after their dominant performance, or if Rainworth would cause an upset on their limited opportunities.
Rainworth made a change at half-time with Romello Nangle coming on for Glodi Bange, sadly his appearance only lasted five minutes as an injury meant he had to be replaced by Oli Brock.
Gresley continued to push forward in the opening minutes of the second half but Eric Graves put his chance well wide in the 54th minute, it was perhaps ‘poetic justice’ as the referee had missed a blatant hand-ball in the build-up.
Then in the 58th minute a moment when Rainworth should have taken the lead as Robert’s poor clearance was blocked by Brock, but with all the goal to aim at his effort hit Roberts and the chance was lost.
Rainworth seemed to gain in confidence and came more into the game, although in the 65th minute Lucas Harrison’s effort flashed past the far post.
Gresley nearly conceded in the 75th minute when only a double block firstly on Elliot Brown’s and then Gino Kelleher’s follow –up prevented Rainworth taking the lead.
The only goal of the game came in the 76th minute when from a corner Jake Carlisle headed home from a corner on the left.
Rainworth still carried a threat and in the 79th minute Williams volley just went wide and in the 84th minute Craven’s free-kick was headed goal wards by Mansaram, but Roberts gathered it just under the crossbar.
The last chance of the match fell to O’Connell when Reay almost replicated his counterpart Robert’s poor clearance and was relieved when the effort went over.
Whilst for the majority of the match Gresley had held the upper hand, Rainworth had grown into it and their opponents were happy to run down the clock.
It was a match that on chances created Gresley deserved to win, but if Rainworth had taken their golden opportunity in the 58th minute the result may have been different.
The positives were a very young Wrens side had made Gresley fight hard for their win and proved to the fans that even if relegation is now out of their hands that they will fight for survival to the end.
Rainworth: Reay; Raven; T.Brown (I.Robinson); Graham; Freeman; Ofushine; Bange (Nangle)(Brock); Kelleher; E.Brown; Mansaram; Williams. Subs (not used): Johnson; S.Robinson.
Referee: Mr. Matthew Smith.
Man of match: Josh Raven.