Rainworth MW manager Kev Gee resigned and on-loan Mansfield Town star Adam Murray was red-carded for retaliation on a night of high misery as the Wrens went down 3-1 at home to Brigg Town.
Gee tendered his resignation on yet another night when Rainworth’s performance belied the result. However, goals win football matches and Brigg showed how it was done with far less opportunities. During Gee’s reign at Rainworth the expectations have grown, and he must take credit for turning the club around from what had been a team of perennial relegation fighters to one of mid-table security.
Whoever comes in at Kirklington Road must build on that legacy and solve the conundrum of the elusive goalscoring situation.
After Saturday’s disappointment against Newcastle Town, management and players were determined to put in a performance against Brigg.
But fate was once again to deal them a cruel blow, just as it did in similar circumstances in last year’s fixture.
Just as on Saturday, if games were won solely on possession, corners and chances created, then Rainworth would have been victorious.
Alas they are won on goals scored, a commodity that Rainworth are finding so hard to come to terms with, and as on Saturday, last night they came up short.
For the majority of the first half the game took place in the Brigg half and the corner count soon mounted with the final touch all that was missing from a succession of fine build-up play. Rainworth thought they had scored in the third minute, only to see Murray’s goalbound shot deflected for a corner.
Brigg did nearly score against the run of play when Liam Dickens made room for himself, only to see his weak finish easily collected by James Martin.
Once again Rainworth so nearly broke the deadlock when a great Murray ball found Jamie Brown, but his cross just drifted over the crossbar.
Brigg once again counter-attacked, but Jamie Coulson’s attempt was shepherded back to the keeper by Sam Saunders.
It wasn’t long before Rainworth again threatened the Brigg goal and in the 16th minute Jamie Clarke just headed wide from a Matt Varley long throw. Another Murray ball found Brown, but his cross was just cut out.
The pressure by now was intense and in the 21st minute from a Ricky Hanson corner, Dan Waring nearly punched into his own net.
From the subsequent corner, the ball found Nathan Modest, but his fierce shot went just wide of the post.
Rainworth’s corner count was getting into double figures, but it was Brigg who had the next chance when Oliver Fisher’s fine cross was headed over by Dickens. This was quickly followed by a chance for Brigg’s Paul Grimes, but his rushed shot just went wide.
From yet another Rainworth corner Varley headed wide from Hanson, and this was fast becoming one of those nights.
Then it happened! A fine pass from Grimes found William Peers in the 41st minute and his shot beat Martin and nestled in the Rainworth net.
Brigg nearly added to the score when a fine Grimes shot from outside the area was well saved by Martin.
The whistle went for half-time and, once again, a half dominated by Rainworth saw the opposition in the lead.
At half-time Rainworth substituted Greg Archer for Varley and Rainworth continued to take the game to Brigg.
In quick succession Murray found Brown whose cross was just cut out before it reached Clarke at the expense of a corner.
From the corner, Clarke’s header just went the wrong side of the post.
In the 57th minute Scott Rickards replaced Modest and shortly afterwards a mix-up in the Brigg defence almost gifted a goal.
Although Rainworth had the lion’s share of the play, Brigg were always a threat on the attack and Coulson missed a good opportunity, his shot eventually going out for a corner.
On a surreal night, Brigg found themselves two goals up when Archer’s weak header back to Martin was intercepted by Grimes and deftly placed into the net.
Rainworth promptly went down the field and, from a Hanson cross, Clarke placed his header wide of the keeper to level.
What seemed to be the turning point in the match for Rainworth soon disappeared when two minutes later weak defending allowed Coulson time and space to score Brigg’s third.
Rainworth still pushed forward, but with a two goal cushion, Brigg could sense victory and an incident in the 82nd minute just about ended any chance Rainworth had of getting anything from the game.
Murray broke through the middle and, with Anthony Bowsley attempting to hold him back, the referee played advantage.
As Bowsley’s continued to hang on, Murray’s elbow struck him in the face and the referee booked Bowsley and sent Murray off.
It is always a contentious issue when it appears that the instigator becomes the beneficiary, but being down to 10 men still didn’t daunt Rainworth and, from Hanson’s free kick, the ball struck the upright with the keeper well beaten.
Brigg were now contend to soak up the pressure and, although Sam Saunders came close with a header, Rainworth were unable to add to their solitary goal.
The final whistle went and Brigg celebrated their first win and points of the season, while for Rainworth their bright start to the season was fast becoming a nightmare.
RAINWORTH: Martin; Hanson; Dudley; Lloyd; Varley (Archer45); Saunders; Brown; Murray; Modest (Rickards 57); Buttle (Walker 75). Subs (not used) Claxton; Cullingworth.
REFEREE: Mr. Duncan Carratt of Rotherham.
WRENS’ MAN OF THE MATCH: Jamie Brown.