Rainworth Welfare’s lack of game time in December caught up with them as they tired in the second half of a narrow 2-1 home defeat to Penistone Church.
The Northern Counties East League Premier Division match was always going to be close affair between two sides on excellent runs of form — Penistone were unbeaten in eight and Rainworth had been beaten just once in 11 outings.
A goal for either side in the opening eight minutes promised a possible goal-fest, but there was to be only one more strike as the visitors won an end-to-end game in the 81st minute.
Penistone got off to the perfect start when in the first minute Rainworth failed to clear an innocuous free-kick and Jordan Corduri’s low shot, from the edge of the area, beat an unsighted Ben Townsend.
The home side soon threatened and when Matt Sykes’s cross was returned by Tomas Poole, Ross Goodwin put his effort well wide.
Three minutes later Goodwin made no mistake, however, when he headed in the equaliser at a corner.
The game continued at a fast pace and Townsend pulled off an excellent point-blank save from Andy Ring, while at the other end Kyle Jordan’s deflected shot was inches wide.
In the 32nd minute Tom Brennen looped his header over when well placed and Jordan’s shot-on-the-turn was again inches wide.
Townsend had to be alert in the 38th minute when he took the ball off Nathan Keightley’s toes as the visiting player raced on to a through ball.
The second half continued as the first ended with both sides creating chances without threatening a goal.
Rainworth made a couple of substitutions, bringing on Alex Nightingale for Sykes and Charlie Dawes for Poole.
It was Penistone however who started to get the upper hand and Rainworth had Townsend to thank when he blocked Keightley’s goal-bound shot.
Debutant Richard Adams then did well to block a dangerous Penistone cross at the expense of a corner.
The relief was short-lived though when Ring’s cross found Kieran Ryan at the far post for a simple tap-in.
Rainworth came close to snatching a point when Rob Ludlam fired over.
RAINWORTH MWFC: Townsend, Ludlam, Waddle, Booth, Adams, Wilson, Poole (Dawes), Goodwin, Modest, Jordan, Sykes (Nightingale).
Subs (not used): Jones; Knowles; Bennett
Referee: Mr Neil Guest