After two hard games in the space of four days against local rivals, which left their squad down to the bare bones, the last team Rainworth Miners’ Welfare would have chosen to travel to in the Northern Counties East League Premier Division would have been leaders Cleethorpes Town.
However, the squad, with just two substitutes because of injuries, battled hard in a 4-2 defeat that could have been closer but for two contentious decisions, which led to a sending off and a disputed goal.
Cleethorpes took the lead in the 17th minute when a fine cross was pulled back from the by-line, giving Flett an easy task to score.
Rainworth equalised in the 26th minute at a corner. The ball was cleared to the edge of the area and Tomas Poole volleyed into the top corner.
Eight minutes later Poole was involved in a tackle that left a Cleethorpes requiring treatment. None of the homes players remonstrated with the referee, but Poole was dismissed.
The apparent injustice seemed to spur on Rainworth and in the 38th minute they took the lead when debutant Curtis-Shane Gregory found Brewin with an inch-perfect through ball. Brewin outpaced the chasing defenders and, after rounding Higton, slotted home.
Mascall quickly levelled for the home side and at the start of the second half Dickens hit the bar for the leaders.
An excellent save by Ben Townsend at full stretch denied the home side.
But on the hour Cleethorpes took the lead with a contentious goal by Brody Robertson, who the visitors thought was offside. Townsend and Rob Ludlam were booked for their protests.
With the ten men of Rainworth tiring, Ryan Herbert conceded a penalty that Peter Winn converted, giving man-of-the-match Towsend no chance.
Despite the defeat, Rainworth’s performance was full of character against a good side.
RAINWORTH MW: Townsend; Adlington; Claxton; Herbert; Buxton; Ludlam; Gregory (Bamforth); Poole; Topliss; Brewin; Sykes. Sub (not used): Watts.