RAINWORTH felt the force of football’s habit of kicking you when you are down at Kirklington Road on Saturday.
With five minutes remaining and the score locked at 1-1, Stef Frost’s delightful chip shot beat Royals’ keeper Karl Lewis, but came back off the far post and substitute Chris Hewitt lifted the rebound over the bar.
And then, having survived that scare, the play-off chasing West Midlanders notched the winner from Craig Marshall’s 89th minute penalty to go home with the three points and leave the Wrens still needing two to ensure the safety which is already theirs in all but mathematical terms.
It was a cruel blow for Rainworth, who looked a far better outfit than that which suffered a 5-1 thrashing on a cold Monday night at Sutton Coldfield back in January.
Marshall had cancelled out Rainworth’s 1-0 interval lead with a goal three minutes into the re-start, this after Matt Baxter had put the Wrens ahead from the spot in the 34th minute.
Lewis brilliantly saved from Frost, whose shot was destined for the top corner until the keeper clawed it for a corner. Then McNaught was harried into handling from the ensuing flag kick, and Baxter confidently slotted the penalty.
Rainworth were happy to be carrying the lead into the interval, but within three minutes of the restart they had surrendered it.
Marshall turned marker Charlesworth and guided the ball out of the outstretched Hales’ reach.
Buoyed by the equaliser, the Royals began to up the pace and the visitors went looking for the win they needed to keep them in the play-off mix.
Rainworth competed well and it was so nearly they who grabbed a goal in the 85th minute.
Frost, who had scored four goals in his last three games, thought he had made it five in four when he broke though and, as Lewis advanced, chipped over the keeper only to see the ball agonisingly come back off the far post.
And Sutton exacted the maximum punishment for the miss in the 89th minute. Charlesworth was unable to clear the ball in the area under pressure from Marshall and, as it broke, Hannigan went to chest it, but it grazed against his arm.
The defender was harshly booked for hands, and Marshall dispatched the spot-kick to send the visitors home happy and heap more frustration on the home side.
RAINWORTH: Hales, Paling, Carolan (Briggs 77), Charlesworth, Hannigan, Camm, Frost, Baxter, Cooksey, Langford (Hewitt ht), Wright (Francis 80). Subs not used: Topliss, Drake.
SUTTON COLDFIELD: Lewis, N. Dodd, Jackson (Miller ht), McNaught, Booth, Kelly, M. Dodd, Owen, Marshall, Bellingham (Harris 72), Quiggin. Subs not used: Milligan, Pinto, Taylor.
REFEREE: Alexander Harvey of West Bridgford.
WRENS’ MAN OF THE MATCH: Tommy Hannigan.