Rainworth MW are safely through to the quarter-final of the Notts Senior Cup after overcoming resilient Central Midlands visitors Bulwell 2-0 at Kirklington Road.
A dominant first half by the Wrens brought no goals, but quality and league status told after the break as the Bulls were finally worn down.
It was a potential banana skin for Rainworth, who played two Central Midlands sides in the competition last season - one went to penalties, the other they lost, while Bulwell arrived on the back of eight consecutive victories.
Rainworth made four changes from the team that lost at Romulus, with Jason Gregory, Ricky Hanson, Scott Rickards and Jordan Ball all starting.
The first chance of the game fell to Bulwell when from a corner their looping header landed on the crossbar. But this was to be a rare Bulwell chance in a half Rainworth were to dominate.
They nearly scored in the eighth minute when Ball’s cross was hit just past the post by Kieran Walker.
In quick succession Walker had another shot cleared and Gregory’s looping shot just flew past the post. Ashley Longstaff almost set up Ball only to see it turned out for a corner, and Rickards then hit a free kick that nearly found the top corner, but a Bulwell head managed to deflect it for a corner.
At this stage Rainworth were dominating, without really threatening the Bulwell goal.
But the visitors were still capable of posing a threat on the counter, and Emmanuel Kashila-Kanyinda almost scored, only for James Martin’s block to be decisive. The wake-up call had the desired effect as Rainworth once more threatened the Bulwell goal.
Sam Saunders headed wide, quickly followed by a finger-tip save to deny Longstaff, and probably the best chance of the game was put wide by Hanson. But in a half which Rainworth for the most part controlled, they remained unable to find the elusive goal.
The first action of the second half saw Ball thwarted by the keeper when through on goal and it seemed a goal would never come.
That changed in the 54th minute when Hanson beat the off-side trap and, as he was closed down, passed to Longstaff who confidently placed the ball into the net for the opening goal.
Rainworth’s first substitution saw James Cullingworth replace Gregory in the 58th minute and almost immediately Longstaff evaded his marker, but his scuffed shot passed just wide of the post. Longstaff went close again as his fierce shot beat both the keeper and the post.
The second Rainworth substitution saw Jamie Clarke replace Hanson in the 65th minute and the final one saw Jack Hawkins replace Longstaff in the 74th minute.
Cullingworth was starting to cause problems and from a deep cross Ball headed wide. Just as it seemed they would never score a killer second, the 78th minute saw Ball hit an absolute screamer from an acute angle into the top corner, for the second goal.
Rainworth almost added another when Ball found Clarke whose goal-bound shot was kicked off the line and his follow-up blocked. Bulwell almost gave themselves a life-line when Richard Saunders hit a firm shot just over the bar.
This only served to rouse Rainworth into an even greater effort and Ball’s cross was almost put into the empty net by Hawkins.
Mark Dudley found himself in the referee’s book for a tug and in the final minute Clarke had a great chance only for him to hit it straight at the keeper.
RAINWORTH: Martin; Gregory (Cullingworth 58); Dudley; Lloyd; Walker; Saunders, Hanson (Clarke 65); Magee; Longstaff (Hawkins 74); Ball; Rickards. Subs not used: Varley; Rogers.
REFEREE: Andrew Dallison
WRENS MAN OF THE MATCH: Jordan Ball.
Sutton Town AFC lost 2-1 at holders Carlton in their tough tie last night while Selston also went out 1-0 at home to Dunkirk.