Rainworth MW 2, Hall Road Rangers 0
Toolstation NCEL Premier Division
Tuesday November 28
By Neil Winsor
HALL Road Rangers returned from their 160 mile round trip empty handed last night as despite enjoying large amounts of possession they fell to defeat at Rainworth MW.
The hosts showed a clinical edge to their game, taking their chances whilst Rangers found home skipper Ben Townsend in inspired form between the posts to keep out Bill Gill’s side, as Rangers lost the opportunity to close the gap on the teams above them.
In a game which also saw nine bookings, both sides were dumbfounded as to how many cautions were given out in a typically competitive NCEL Premier Division fixture, but one that was played in the right spirit.
Rangers boss Bill Gill and his assistant Andrew Watts welcomed back Conner Harman to the squad whilst Sam O’Malley led the line in the continued absence through injury of leading scorer Chris Spinks.
Alex Stock also kept his place in the side after he continued to impress during the weekend win over Thackley, whilst Josh Vickers, another youngster, nudged his way onto the substitutes bench.
With the kick off delayed 15 minutes to kindly allow Rangers additional time to arrive from Hull due to traffic their preparation was far from ideal.
Rainworth threatened first as they started well. The Wrens working an intricate move on the edge of Rangers penalty area leading to a curling effort drifting harmlessly wide.
The hosts direct play was highlighting their strengths with the nippy Nathan Modest up front, and they looked especially dangerous on the break early on, and they took the lead by catching Hall Road on the break, on 19 minutes.
A searching pass downfield was not dealt with, and Modest nipped in between the Rangers defensive line and James Hitchcock, and with the Rangers keeper racing out of his goal to try and make the clearance ahead of the Rainworth striker, it was Modest who arrived first to poke the ball home and open the scoring.
Hall Road responded well after falling behind and enjoyed a decent little spell of pressure in their opponents half during the moments that followed.
Townsend’s first save of note saw him keep out a close range header from a corner on 25 minutes after some good work by Stock on the right flank, Townsend tipping over the bar, and this was followed shortly by an O’Malley header at the far post, but he failed to hit the target against one of his former clubs.
The hosts still looked dangerous on the break going into the final third of the first half, and Fraser Hansen had to be alert to snuff out a fast moving counter attack after a Rangers move had broken down, the young wide-man covering for his team-mates and clearing for a throw when a mistake would have led to a one-on-one goal scoring situation.
The former Pickering man then showed his attacking exploits instead three minutes before the interval, with a perfectly executed half volley on the rise from distance with the outside of his boot. being tipped away again by Townsend, diving at full stretch to his left.
With Townsend in fine form for the hosts, it was Hitchcock who was then called into action on the brink of half-time as he made his best save of the evening.
A shot from the edge of the area took a deflection on it’s way through and with Hitchcock going the other way, he adjusted his balance superbly to get down and tip the ball over the crossbar to keep Rangers in the game going in at the break.
The early stages of the second half was scrappy at best, a brief fracas involving Josh Batty and Townsend saw both players cautioned in the only flash point of discipline misdemeanors.
Rainworth seemed content at 1-0 up and showed a willingness to slow the play down at every opportunity, but would still look to hit Hall Road on the break as their visitors looked to force the issue and try to restore parity.
After young Alex Stock was pole-axed while challenging for a header, he was replaced by Harman in the centre of Rangers midfield, with Stock again impressing in his 51 minutes on the pitch and again showing he is worthy of his run in the team.
Hall Road created some half chances but lacked any real cutting edge and tempo in the next passage of the game, and they were punished on 68 minutes as Rainworth doubled their lead as they struck the telling blow.
In similar fashion to ‘The Wrens’ opener, Tomas Poole latched onto a long through pass this time by Modest who turned provider, and with a defender looking to force Poole out wide, the striker took his shot early, and despatched nicely past Hitchcock and inside the far post.
Falling further behind led to some quicker attacking play from Rangers and they created the better chances in the final quarter as to their credit kept battling.
Hansen had another effort palmed away, this time from a central free-kick from nearly 25 yards with 13 minutes remaining, Townsend again throwing himself to his left to tip the ball away for a corner.
An opportunity was then handed to wide-man Josh Vickers who replaced Jack Binns on the left flank, with Rangers still believing the possibility of still getting something, they went with a three-pronged attack which consisted of Vickers, Batty and O’Malley.
The ball never fell in a telling area for Hall Road though as Rainworth professionally saw the game out, Hitchcock kept out a third from close range, whilst Townsend continued to block everything that came his way, notably an effort from a tight angle on the right from Gareth Owen.
The evening proved a frustrating one for Rangers but they have the perfect chance to claim some more points when Parkgate visit Haworth Park on Saturday afternoon.