With the final relegation place in Evo-Stick NPL Division One South virtually now between Rainworth MW and Kidsgrove Athletic, who meet in a showdown at Kirklington Road on Saturday, the Wrens’ precious 1-0 win at Norton United on Saturday has put the pressure back on Kidsgrove.
The result next weekend may even be superfluous with Norton announcing this week that they would be resigning from the league at the end of the season.
If the Wrens beat Kidsgrove, it would leave them six points behind Rainworth with two games to play while the Wrens would have one left.
Rainworth also have a superior goal difference of 10, so it would be a big ask for Kidsgrove to cut that difference, even if the Wrens lose at Coalville on the last day.
Whoever misses out will then be hanging desperately on for the FA’s decision on how they deal with the demise of Norton, due to crippling ground rent rises.
At Norton on Saturday the first chance fell to Rainworth’s Leon Osborne in the third minute, but his weak effort was easily gathered by Danny Roberts.
Norton were undaunted and in the seventh minute Kyle Diskin hit his free-kick into the wall and his follow up went wide.
They went even closer in the 11th minute when Lee Cropper’s cross was struck on target by Diskin only for David Reay to tip it onto the bar and out for a corner.
Norton were starting to have the better of the exchanges and Richard Smith was well wide with a free-kick.
On 31 minutes Cropper caught Reay out of goal but his goalbound effort was headed off the line by Dan White.
A minute later, and with Rainworth failing to clear their lines, it was Joe Beaumont who struck his effort well over.
Then Diskin’s was unlucky to see his effort just clear the upright as they continued to pressure the Rainworth goal.
Rainworth squandered a golden opportunity was Romaine Graham was put through, but he stood on the ball and the chance was gone.
A neat Norton passing move left Rainworth relieved when Cropper was adjudged offside.
However on the stroke of half-time Rainworth squandered the best chance of the half when Darren Mansaram somehow headed Chris Bettny’s corner over when well placed.
The wind was now causing both sides problems and Reay was almost caught out in the opening minutes of the second half when he failed to gather a high ball, but Dean Freeman was on hand to head it off the line.
The breakthrough came in the 57th minute when Gino Kelleher latched on to a through ball and his cross was crashed home by Graham.
Rainworth were enjoying a period of pressure, and when Elliot Hodgett-Young found Osborne his cross was almost put into the net by Graham, only for the referee to penalise him for a foul on the keeper.
They should have doubled their score in the 70th minute when a neat move between Graham and Osborne found Mansaram with only the keeper to beat, but he hit it straight at him and it was cleared.
Then Graham wasted a good opportunity when he broke clear and once again the shot was straight at the keeper.
It looked as though they would pay for their wastefulness, but when Smith was one-on-one with the keeper he hit it wide when it seemed easier to score.
In the final minutes Chris Baker’s effort went too close for comfort as Norton tried desperately to equalise.
In injury time Glodi Bange had a chance to calm Rainworth’s nerves but he too hit straight at the keeper and it was easily gathered.
When the whistle went Rainworth were a relieved side and, while they had enough chances to make the game safe, they were never in a position to relax.
Rainworth’s strength is their defence, once again magnificently marshalled by Dan White, and in the last few weeks they have only conceded more than one goal against opposition in the play-off places once.
It has been 248 minutes since they last conceded a goal, a tremendous achievement by a team fighting relegation.
However the attack must start taking responsibility and begin converting their chances or else they may find the three points gained this week all in vain if they lose this weekend’s encounter with Kidsgrove Athletic.
While that result may yet prove to be irrelevant, neither side are guaranteed a reprieve through Norton United’s misfortunes.
RAINWORTH: Reay; Bettny, Hodgett-Young, White, Ofushine, Kelleher, Whitehead (Pereira), Graham, Mansaram (Bange), Osborne. Subs not used: Williams, I. Robinson.
REFEREE: S. England.
WRENS MAN OF THE MATCH: Dan White.