RAINWORTH recorded their biggest win for 10 years at troubled Hucknall Town, whose gutsy rearguard action on Boxing Day was nowhere near enough to keep the Wrens at bay.
But few visiting fans would have failed to be moved by the plight of their Yellows counterparts who have seen their once proud club reduced to the current shocking state of affairs.
Ten years ago, in their first season in the Central Midlands Premier Division, Rainworth went to Sheepbridge and won 11-2. In the event that result counted for nothing for, within a week, the Chesterfield based club had folded. The hope is that a similar fate will not befall the Wrens’ old friends and rivals, but that they will be able to find a way through their current problems and restore themselves to their fallen glories.
For Rainworth on the day, though, it was a chance to do something about their negative goal difference. But despite the emphatic 8-1 scoreline the winning margin really should have been well into double figures.
That it was not so was due in no small measure to Yellows’ former Cameroon U21 international goalkeeper
Alex Malong, who played out of his skin in a vain bid to keep the scoreline reasonably respectable.
A measure of the problems currently being experienced at Watnall Road was that at the time the team sheets were due to be submitted to match referee Nigel Murphy they had only 10 players available. But with the agreement of Rainworth they were allowed to include an 11th late arrival, although they were unable to name any substitutes and fielded a side made up of players mainly recruited from clubs in the Central Midlands League.
The game, played largely in atrocious conditions, really belonged to Ian Holmes, whose five-star, five-goal display showed how much he is missed by Rainworth when he is away at university.
Recent new boy Conor Higginson added a couple and Ryan Goward one to complete the rout, while even the one goal credited to Hucknall was a bizarre own goal.
It took less than two minutes for Rainworth, and Ian Holmes, to get off the mark, Holmes receiving from Higginson on the right to slot past the keeper. Hucknall’s claim for offside appeared to have some merit but the flag stayed down and the goal stood.
Four minutes later it was 2-0, Higginson on hand to finish from close range following Goward’s cross being headed down at the far post by Kieran Walker.
The overworked Malong and his equally harassed defence strove hard to keep Rainworth at bay, the keeper in particular producing a succession of fine saves as Town were pegged back, the best an acrobatic tip over in the 18th minute to deny Jared Holmes.
But it was 3-0 on the half-hour when, as Hucknall struggled to clear, Jared Holmes fed the ball through for namesake Ian to put away.
Town got one back in the 39th minute, courtesy of a weird own goal from Ashley Kitchen, who made a hash of an attempted header back to Alessandro Barcherini in the Wrens’ goal, the ball skidding under the keeper and into the net.
The half time scoreline of 3-1 could and should have been double, and within seconds of the re-start Higginson burst through, only to be bundled over on the edge of the box. Goward’s free kick was heading for under the bar until Malong managed to tip it over.
But Rainworth were not to be denied, and their three-goal cushion was restored in the 55th minute, Ian Holmes completing his hat-trick with a speculative attempt from 25 yards which went in under the angle.
Five more minutes on, it was 5-1. Malong blotted his copybook by making a hash of Ashley Kitchen’s cross under pressure from Higginson, allowing Goward to stab the ball home.
New boy Adam Kimberley was introduced in the 64th minute and, within a matter of seconds, Ian Holmes thumped home another great shot from Lee Cooksey’s through pass.
Ian Holmes blazed a glorious chance high and wide, and Malong charged out of his goal to win a race to the ball with Danny Bacon, before the best goal of the match made it 7-1 in the 74th minute. Higginson sent Bacon clear on the left, and Ian Holmes arrived to plant home the cross inside the far post, before Higginson completed the rout three minutes from time.
HUCKNALL: Malong, Paling, Leggitt, Beardsley, Brown, Carl Gould, Craig Gould, Vardy, Trigg, Hatfield, Weston.
RAINWORTH: Barcherini, Walker, Hanson (Burton 74), Camm, Kitchen, Cooksey (Jenkins 69), I. Holmes, Bacon, Higginson, J. Holmes, Goward (Kimberley 64). Sub not used: Nshindano.
REFEREE: Nigel Murphy (Mansfield).
MAN OF THE MATCH: Ian Holmes.