Aidy Harris’ double garnered three priceless points to give Rainworth a 2-0 victory at Gedling MW.
The win put the Wrens into closer touch with the pack and opened up a four-point gap on the three clubs below them in the East Midlands Counties League standings.
Gedling had gone into the match on the back of a midweek win at West Bridgford, and although they remained just one place above the Wrens that result had given them a five-point cushion. Consequently only a win would do, and Lewis Saxby’s men turned in a display full of heart and passion to come up with the goods.
Saxby himself was a happy man at the end, not only with the result but with the performance, saying: “It was a different type of performance today. We’d all like to get the ball down and pass it around, but sometimes you have to grit it out, and I can’t fault any of the lads today, they worked their socks off.
“We made a couple of changes and the lads who came in put in a proper shift, and our back four were outstanding, with Connor Wright and Will Slack immense at the heart.
“And if there was a better performer on the field than Aidy Harris I would have been amazed.”
Harris struck in the 28th minute with a header from a corner and again in the 68th from the penalty spot,
But it would be wrong to say Rainworth had it all their own way. They had to survive an early onslaught during which Courtney Hastings brought a good save out of Wrens keeper Josh Hollis.
Home keeper Danny Brown almost parried a cross into his own net in the 10th minute under pressure from Harris as Rainworth battled back into the game, and the visitors looked askance at the referee seven minutes later when Liam Jepson appeared to be brought down on the left edge of the box as he cut in, with nothing given.
But the visitors forged ahead in the 28th minute. Max Curzon won a corner which was cleared for another, and at the second attempt Harris ghosted in from nowhere to head home Jonathan Drake’s flag kick.
Home keeper Danny Brown just won a race with Harris for Josh Asuman’s astute through ball, and although the hosts broke from the clearance with Mason Coy pulling a decent effort narrowly wide, it was Brown thwarting Harris again moments later, scrambling low to turn the Wrens skipper’s stooping header for a corner.
Gedling began the second half as they had the first, and again the Wrens defence answered all the questions asked of them.
Once again Rainworth regained their foothold, but were furious when a rogue offside flag was raised as sub Blessing Adaleye neatly put Asuman through.
Hollis was called on again to save from Jurgen Chgarlesworth as Gedling continued to probe for an equaliser, but it was Rainworth who were to secure the next goal, when a wicked Harris shot was handled in the box, and Harris himself rolled his spot kick inside Brown’s right hand post as the keeper went the other way.
There was a setback for the Wrens when Harris limped off in the 85th minute following a foul challenge on him in the centre circle, but they sent on defender Shomari Doyle for the final minutes to ensure that there would be no way through for the home side.
GEDLING: Danny Brown, Dwayne Brown, McCaughey, R. Coy (Meakin 66), Roberts (Smith 77), Corrigan, Charlesworth, Spiers, Hastings, M. Coy (Sylla 58), J. Jepson. Subs not used: Meakin, Walker.
RAINWORTH: Hollis, Copestake, Toon, Drake (Davidson 77), Spray, Wright, Curzon (Adaleye 61), Fty, Asuman, Harris (Doyle 86), L. Jepson. Subs not used: Taylor, Henry.
REFEREE: Stephen Davis.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Aidy Harris.