Rainworth Miners Welfare had to dig deep to secure a 3-1 win over Maltby Main on Tuesday night in a match that was in the balance for a long time.
Rainworth made one enforced change from Saturday’s team with James Weaver making his full debut in place of Sam Dockwray who had work commitments. There was also a welcome return on the bench for Matt Plant who was returning after a period out injured.
The early exchanges were hard-fought with Maltby competing for every ball and chasing back when it was lost.
They almost opened the scoring in the sixth minute when a dangerous cross was headed off the line by Gareth Campion.
Rainworth’s Liam Morris’s shot on the turn in the 11th minute was tipped around the post by Jamie Bailey as it looked to be heading for the top corner.
Bailey was in action again in the 15th minute this time saving Jack Andrews header on the line.
It was Morris again in the 21st minute when Jack Barnett found him with through ball, but his shot on the turn just flew over the crossbar.
A few minutes later Ricky Hanson’s free-kick found York, but he put his effort wide when well placed.
Maltby too were creating chances and Rainworth were thankful no-one got a touch to a dangerous cross that flashed across the goalmouth.
It was Maltby now who were testing the Rainworth defence and Connor Smythe did well to defuse a fierce cross at the expense of a corner.
The half ended with Rainworth almost taking the lead, firstly York broke down the left and his cross was just too strong for the onrushing Morris. Then York found Declan Brewin and his effort flashed across the goal and just wide of the far upright.
Rainworth were the first to threaten in the second half and Sykes’ driven effort in the 50th minute was saved at full-stretch by Bailey.
The pressure was building and a couple of minutes later a great one-two between Sykes and Morris ended with Sykes’ effort flashing just past the upright.
The breakthrough came in the 54th minute and it was a goal that would have graced any match. A long ball found Morris, who had two defenders between him and the goal, but his touch and movement took him clear. Bailey came out to narrow the angle and Morris stood him up and then left him on his backside, before coolly stroking the ball into the unguarded net.
In the 59th minute there seemed little danger when a high ball was hit into the Rainworth half however Campion, who had been having an outstanding game up to then, in attempting to find Chris Gill only succeeded in finding Maltby’s Lee Hill. Hill drove into the area and as Gill tried to close him down he made no mistake hitting the ball into the corner for the equaliser.
The next ten minutes saw both sides going all out for a winner and the game was in the balance.
That was until the 72nd minute when York created space and found Morris, and there was never any doubt where the ball was going and the home fans heaved a sigh of relief as it hit the back of the net.
Two minutes later and they extended their lead as Sykes found Brewin. His first effort was blocked, but his follow-up flew in giving Bailey no-chance.
Rainworth brought on Matt Plant and Lewis Bingham for Campion and York.
Maltby continued to press and Farbod Yousefi’s effort was blocked at the expense of a corner.
Rainworth made their final substitution bringing on Liam Theakstone for Sykes.
Still Maltby came forward and only a great save by Gill from Hill’s goalbound shot prevented a score.
There was still time for one more Rainworth attack and Smythe was unlucky to see his effort well saved by Bailey.
On the final whistle Rainworth had gained a hard-earned win against a Maltby side that never gave up and belied their league position.
RAINWORTH: Gill; Hanson; Smythe; Barnett; Campion (Plant); Andrews; York (Bingham); J.Weaver; Morris; Brewin; Sykes (Theakstone).
Referee: Oliver Bickle.
Man of the match: Liam Morris.