Rainworth Miners’ Welfare, without a Northern Counties East League Premier Division win since October, are sliding into a relegation battle.
The side’s lack of confidence was highlighted on Saturday. They raced into a two-goal lead in the space of 14 minutes at Albion Sports, before a combination of poor defending and poor decisions by the match officials led to a 4-2 defeat.
Their next two fixtures against Real United (Notts Senior Cup) and Retford United (league), both at Kirklington Road, are now vital.
Rainworth keeper Ben Townsend made a fine second-minute save at Albion.
The visitors took advantage in the 12th minute as Nick Langford ran on to an excellent through ball and easily beat the advancing keeper.
Two minutes later Langford capitalised on a defensive mix-up with an inch-perfect lob from 40 yards.
Rainworth’s dream start soon became a rearguard action and Townsend saved well from another testing effort.
Albion thought they had pulled a goal back in the 19th minute, but it was disallowed for a push on the keeper.
The reprieve was short-lived when Daniel Facey’s acrobatic finish made it 2-1.
Rainworth fought back and were unlucky when Matt Sykes hit the bar.
Albion equalised in the 31st minute when Facey was the first to react to the loose ball after a Townsend block,
Sykes, Curtis Gregory and Matt Harris all went close to restoring Rainworth’s lead, while at the other end a defensive error almost gifted Albion a goal.
But in the 67th minute the visitors were punished after losing the ball in a dangerous area.
Then more poor defending saw Facey, in an offside position, complete his hat-trick and make it 4-2.
Rainworth staged a late rally with the keeper’s finger-tip save keeping out a Sykes shot that was heading for the bottom corner.
RAINWORTH MWFC: Townsend; Herbert; Cooper; Bamforth; Buxton; Mansell; Gregory (Shaw); Claxton; Langford; Harris (Hobson); Sykes. Subs (not used): Topliss; Griffin.
Man of the match: Jordan Claxton.