RAINWORTH MW’S hopes of a place in the Doodson Sport Cup quarter-final were ended by an inept second half performance as they lost 2-0 at Eastwood Town’s Coronation Park last Tuesday.
The Wrens had trailed by a single goal at the interval, having faced the blustery gale and intermittent heavy rain in the first half.
But they had dominated most of the play up to the break and looked likely to capitalise on the conditions which would be in their favour for the second period.
How wrong can one be? For in the end Premier Division strugglers Eastwood were worthy victors. While Rainworth stuttered, the Badgers suddenly found a new lease of life, with early second half substitute Jake Green always a thorn in the side of the Wrens.
Eastwood may be the mighty who have fallen, but they are not dead yet. Indeed their winning margin would have been greater but for a fabulous penalty save by Alessandro Barcherini.
Most in the sparse crowd may have wondered why referee Duncan Street awarded it, but Paolo Piliero’s spot kick was brilliantly turned over the bar and onto the roof of the net by the Wrens’ keeper.
But it was to be a former Wren, Lavell White, who finished off his old club in the 77th minute when he turned home Green’s driven cross at the far post.
The Badgers’ opening goal had come against the run of play in the 18th minute from their first corner, which was not adequately defended, leaving Gary Breach’s outstretched leg to apply the finish.
Once again, though, the Achilles’ heel which dogged Rainworth was their inability to put the ball in the net and round off what in the first half had been vastly superior approach play, which should have seen them in a commanding lead at the turn round.
Ryan Goward brought a great save out of home keeper Richard Stainsby in only the fourth minute, but that was the only time they looked likely to turn their more enterprising approach into goals before Breach struck.
The returning Danny Bacon, absent since before Christmas for family reasons, was at the heart of much of the visitors’ neat build-up play, but time after time it faltered in the final third of the field, although how Dan White’s header onto Goward’s free kick stayed out of the net in the 29th minute was anyone’s guess, while Conor Higginson contrived to stand on the ball when well placed to provide the finish to another Goward cross just before half time.
Any hopes that Rainworth would up the pace with the favourable conditions for the second half were quickly dispelled as the Badgers poured forward and had their visitors constantly on the back foot.
Gone was the Wrens’ earlier fluency as they became increasingly sloppy and prone to returning possession to their hosts.
Barcherini’s penalty save, which went a long way towards earning him the man of the match nomination, kept Rainworth in it, but even facing torrential and almost horizontal rain it was Eastwood who were now pulling the strings.
The storm appeared to have been ridden as Rainworth came more into the picture , but they continued to scorn what chances came their way.
And Lavell White - one of two ex-Wrens in the Badgers’ side, the other being Romaine Graham - put the tie beyond his former club in the 77th minute, leaving Rainworth to huff and puff for the rest of the match without ever looking likely to blow the Eastwood house down.
EASTWOOD: Stainsby, Breach (Green 55), Shaw, Roberts, Graham, Piliero, Raven (Campbell 87), M. Hanson, Harris, L. White, Rogers. Subs not used: Selvam, Aaser, Munn.
RAINWORTH: Barcherini, Walker, R. Hanson, Camm, Kitchen, D. White (Jenkins 71), Lloyd, Bacon (Akers ht), Higginson, J. Holmes, Goward. Sub not used: Claxton.
REFEREE: Duncan Street of Normanton, West Yorks.
WRENS MAN OF THE MATCH: Alessandro Barcherini.