In the final dress rehearsal before the forthcoming league campaign, Rainworth’s 2-1 win over Matlock Town owed much to lessons learned from previous encounters against opposition from higher leagues. The fluid passing game was still there for all to see but the moments of complacency in defence had for the most part been eradicated, writes Paul Fryer.
Matlock Town came to Kirklington Road on Saturday hoping to end their preseason with a victory to take into the new campaign and fielded a full first team squad. Rainworth had other ideas and soon proved that they are well capable of matching teams from the higher leagues with their organisation and fluent passing football. The first half became a midfield battle with neither side able to gain the upper hand. Rainworth did get the ball in the Matlock goal through Danny Bacon only for it to be disallowed for offside; and the half finished goalless.
There wasn’t the raft of half-time substitutions; usually found in friendly fixtures; with the season only a week away, both sides were content just too fine tune their line ups. Rainworth’s paid off when another fine passing movement down the right hand side resulted in the cross being turned into the Matlock net by substitute Blair Anderson. It was no more than Rainworth’s play deserved and only minutes later another such move was only thwarted by the brave intervention of the Matlock keeper.
With Rainworth starting to get the upper hand Matlock made a couple of substitutions and it wasn’t long before one of them Nathan Jones saw two goal bound efforts go agonisingly close to getting the Matlock equaliser. The first striking the crossbar and the second acrobatically saved by Joe McCormack in the Rainworth goal. Matlock were starting to get back the initiative and with four minutes remaining a rare lapse in the defence allowed Martin Foster to fire home the Matlock equaliser.
With only minutes remaining, it would have been understandable if Rainworth had shut up shop and settled for a very creditable draw against opposition from a higher league. That may once have been the case, but that is no longer the Rainworth way and they continued to attack the Matlock goal. With just three minutes remaining Stephen Akers found Antwon Bonnick in the penalty area with a delightful ball and just as he was about to put the ball into the goal he was brought down by the desperate challenge from Matlock goalkeeper. There were no arguments to what was a ‘stonewall penalty’ and Stephen Akers duly converted it to restore Rainworth’s lead. At the final whistle there was much optimism for the coming season in Rainworth’s 2-1 victory; after a performance that was filled with so many positives.