Rainworth MW’s miserable run stretched to just three wins in 11 games as they lost 3-1 at Lincoln United in the Evo-Stik NPL last night, writes Paul Fryer.
Football is a strange game and has a history of providing teams with opponents who seem to have the ability to raise their game when they meet and Lincoln United are definitely Rainworth’s.
In October they visited Kirklington Road winless in 10 League and Cup matches. What on paper looked to be a ‘banker’ home win turned into a nightmare for Rainworth and Lincoln won the match 4-3.
The return fixture last night saw both teams desperate for a league victory, Lincoln having only won one of their last 10, while Rainworth had only won three.
After a woeful performance on Saturday at Chasetown, Rainworth were boosted by the return of Callum Lloyd from suspension and a return (albeit temporary) of fans favourite Kieran Walker from Boston United.
In addition, at long last Rainworth had managed to sign a striker; Kieran Wells from Dunkirk in the Midland Alliance league.
Although from the level below Evo-Stik, Kieran has a proven goal coring record this season and although young and unproven at this level shouldl quickly become a fans’ favourite; and score goals.
The game kicked off with both sides playing like teams whose first intention was not to lose and the first 20 minutes was frenetic with neither side gaining the upper hand.
Kieran Walker was beginning to influence the game and Lincoln were struggling to cope with his long throws.
The breakthrough came when Rainworth won a corner in the 24th minute and Ryan Goward’s cross was headed home by debutant Wells.
As in the previous encounter this season, Rainworth’s lead didn’t last and two minutes later, again from a corner, Ben Garrick levelled the scores.
Immediately Rainworth responded and a Goward’s free kick was headed goalwards by Wells and Phil McGann could only punch it out to Jared Holmes, whose follow-up shot was deflected for a corner.
This was to be the sum total of the goalmouth action until the last five minutes of a half that never really came to life.
In the 41st minute a rare Rainworth passing move saw Goward’s pass find Holmes whose well-hit shot brought an excellent save from McGann.
Then a bullet header was headed just wide by Wells from a Goward free kick.
The final action of the half saw Alessandro Barcherini save well at the feet of Garrick, who had been Lincoln’s biggest threat of the half.
The second half started much like the first, although it was Lincoln who seemed to up their game.
In the 55th minute Rainworth were grateful to concede just a corner from a fine midfield move from Lincoln.
This was starting to be the pattern with the better football coming from Lincoln and the Rainworth faithful where starting to fear the worst.
Then in the space of a minute; the referee produced two yellow cards, the first to Wells for a late challenge and then Lincoln’s Stewart Reddington for a professional foul.
Rainworth had a brief spell when in the 69th minute Conor Higginson’s shot was well saved and in the 71st minute Goward’s long range effort just cleared the crossbar.
However it was Lincoln who took the lead in the 78th minute when Garrick headed home Aaron Rice’s fine cross.
Rainworth began to show some urgency and a good move between Higginson and Holmes saw the latter’s shot well saved.
The next attack saw Walker’s shot just flash by the post as Rainworth tried to get back into the game.
However, it was Lincoln who added to their score in the 89th minute when an innocuous ball was allowed to roll past at least three Rainworth defenders and Scott Coupland gratefully pounced to put the ball in the net.
That was the final action of a game that never really got going, but credit to Lincoln who deservedly won on the night.
It’s worrying times at Rainworth, who have now only won three of their last 11 games and it is hard to see where the next win will come from.
Confidence is low and the passing game that stood them in good stead earlier in the season has disappeared and the goals have all but dried up.
What had looked like being a productive season is now turning into a nightmare and they will be hoping for better things on Saturday when they visit Kidsgrove.
LINCOLN: McGann: Hone: Rice: McDaid: Reddington: Green: Raby (Coyde 83): Cunningham: Garrick: Hutchinson: Coupland. Subs (Not used): Fleming; King; Mowbray; Zuerner.
RAINWORTH: Barcherini: Hanson: Goward: Camm: Magee: Williams: Lloyd: Wells: Higginson: J.Holmes: Walker. Subs (Not used): Claxton; Bacon; Hollis; Jenkins; Weaver.
Referee: Nigel Smith
Wrens’ Man of Match: Kieran Wells.