The Wrens’ short trip to Sandy Lane to play their fellow mid-tablers was their first match since the departure of their striker, and the Toolstation Northern Counties East League’s joint leading scorer, Aaron Moxam, to Premier Division rivals, Handsworth Parramore.
But Moxam wasn’t missed as Rainworth, according to Watts, produced their “best performance in a while” to tame The Tigers in front of a sizeable crowd of 474. “Everything went right for us at the right times,” he said. “The scoreline flattered us slightly, but the goals came at good times and, in the end, we killed them off.
Watts feels that even without Moxam, Rainworth have “an abundance of very good strikers”, making it difficult for him to keep them all happy. And he was particularly pleased by the display of one of them, Jack Barnett, who scored with a sublime free-kick against his former club. “Jack is a wonderful footballer,” said Watts, who was also impressed by new boys Jake Adlington and Ryan Herbert.
After an end-to-end start to the game, Rainworth’s breakthrough goal came in the 24th minute when Matt Sykes’s through ball led to a mishit clearance that was pounced on by Julian Topliss, whose curled effort found the top corner.
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The lead was almost doubled six minutes later when a cross by Jack Hawkins was headed against a post and into ‘keeper Ben Townsend’s arms by Mitch Husbands.
But Worksop continued to probe, looking dangerous from crosses, and they probably should have equalised just before the interval when a forceful run by Kieran Fenton set up Connor Brunt, who shot wide from a good position.
The hosts went close again at the start of the second period when a cross bounced over the head of Charlie Dawes with the goal at his mercy. But from then on, Rainworth’s sharp counter-attacking game began to pay real dividends and when Topliss seized on a defensive mistake in the 58th minute, he found Sykes, who rounded a defender before sliding a shot into the bottom corner.
At the other end, only a fingertip save by Townsend prevented Adam Scott’s cross-cum-shot reducing the arrears. But the 73rd minute brought Barnett’s exceptional free-kick, arrowed into the top corner, and the Wrens’ third goal.
Worksop responded with a free-kick of their own, supplied by Brunt, who struck the bar, with Townsend beaten. But by now, Rainworth were on top and after substitute Nick Langford had wasted a fine chance, driving into the side-netting, they wrapped up their win with two more goals in the dying minutes.
First Langford made amends when sent through by Phil Buxton, and then two more subs combined as Declan Brewin set up Owen Heather.