Once again depleted, Rainworth MW were beaten 1-0 at home by a second half penalty when Pontefract Collieries visited in the NCEL Premier Division on Saturday.
The selection conundrum that is Rainworth continued with their two main strikers missing, which meant they still have been unable to play the same XI this season.
In previous matches the Wrens had been able to overcome this, but on Saturday for whatever reason their performance was like that of complete strangers.
Both sides came into the match on the back of defeats, Pontefract Collieries being the more surprising away at previously pointless Brigg Town.
Rainworth’s was at the hands of their local rivals Clipstone and with better finishing the result could have been so different.
The first half was disjointed with both sides struggling to find any rhythm and in the whole of the 45 minutes there were only three worthwhile attempts on goal, all from Pontefract.
In the 12th minute Rainworth were grateful to their keeper Nathan Burrows when he blocked the first two efforts and gathered the third.
It was Burrows again to the rescue in the 18th minute when he tipped over Ruben Jerome’s effort and he was in action again when he saved Max Leonard’s effort.
When the whistle went for half-time it came as no surprise that it was goalless, in a match were Rainworth hadn’t had a single effort on goal.
The second half saw Pontefract on the front foot and Josh Corbett’s 49th minute effort was well saved by Burrows.
A minute later it seemed Aaron Moxam must score, but Burrows somehow managed to turn it onto the post.
It was all Pontefract in this spell and it seemed the only thing between Pontefract and a goal was Burrows.
Rainworth had to wait until the 52nd minute for their first shot on goal, but Liam Theakstone’s weak effort was easily gathered by Craig Parry.
Rainworth’s usual fluid passing game seemed a distant memory as they continued to struggle with more finding the opposition than their own players.
Rainworth’s first real threat came in the 55th minute when Sam Dockwray’s free-kick was touched on by Theakstone, but Gareth Campion’s lunging effort flew over the bar.
Then came a moment of controversy when in the 63rd minute, with Rainworth defending a corner, the ball struck Dockwray and the referee awarded a penalty. Dockwray claimed it struck him in the face, but the referee said it was his hand.
Up stepped Moxam who easily beat Burrows for the opener. In truth, up to then a penalty was the only way either side would have scored.
Pontefract almost doubled their score when in the 67th minute Moxam was through on goal but luckily for Rainworth he inexplicably put it wide.
This seemed to act as a wake-up call to Rainworth and for the remainder of the game they pressed for the equaliser.
In the 71st minute they were unlucky when Theakstone’s well struck shot flashed the wrong side of the post with the keeper beaten.
They went even closer in the 83rd minute when Connor Smythe was unlucky to see his effort strike the post with the keeper an admiring bystander.
Seconds later Matthew Thompson’s driven cross just evaded the on-rushing Rainworth players, when only a touch was needed.
However, it was too little too late as Pontefract played out time for the victory.
On this performance, despite the controversial penalty, Rainworth got what they deserved.
With two of the title favourites up next, the management team must be hoping that they will at long last field be able to field a settled side.
RAINWORTH: Burrows; Hanson; Smythe; Bowring; Plant; Campion; Chambers; Dockwray; Theakstone; Thompson; Sykes. Subs (not used): Andrews; Pereira; J.Weaver; Mitchell.
REFEREE: Mr Paul Tomes.
WRENS MAN OF THE MATCH: Nathan Burrows.