A late Andrew Gascoigne goal finished off Rainworth MW 3-1 at Sheffield after the Wrens were forced to play more than half the game with 10 men following a red card for Damien Magee on Saturday.
The meeting at the Coach & Horses Stadium was between two teams who had lately found winning a difficult task.
In a nervy opening, with both sides giving the ball away, it was Rainworth who looked the more likely side to gain the upper hand.
However, it was Sheffield who came closest to opening their account when Max Pemberton’s cross was just missed at the far post by Richard Stirrup.
Rainworth were starting to make inroads into the Sheffield defence with Ashley Longstaff’s effort being deflected for a corner.
Then in the 12th minute Tristram Whitman’s mis-hit his shot and Liam Mitchell just beat Regan Edrige to the ball.
Yet another good passing move created Longstaff a shooting chance that was blocked, the ball falling to Callum Lloyd and his fierce shot just flashing by the wrong side of the upright.
Rainworth’s dominance up to the penalty area was like in previous matches, lacking that all-important cutting edge.
They had their first warning when in the 25th minute Steve Woolley threatened the Rainworth goal and only a good block prevented a score.
A couple of minutes later Rainworth were unlucky to see Longstaff’s effort just clear the crossbar and then Jobe Shaw’s effort was brilliantly tipped around the upright by Mitchell.
In a five minute period just before half-time, Rainworth were made to rue their wasted chances as Andrew Gascoigne threaded a ball through to Woolley. It was barely a half-chance but he turned the defender to create a shooting opportunity and drilled it into the bottom corner.
Matters got even worse when a couple of minutes later Magee’s reckless tackle left Stirrup prostrate on the floor and both sets of players squared up
It was alleged a punch had been thrown at Gascoigne and the referee had no hesitation in showing Magee a red card.
Stirrup was stretchered from the field and replaced by Jack Waddle as the referee blew the whistle for half-time.
Rainworth started the second half looking to get back into the game, despite Sheffield’s man advantage, but Kieran Coupe’s effort was put over the crossbar.
Sheffield had pushed Ben Algar into a more forward position and only a quick reaction by Jobe Shaw prevented him from scoring.
Callum Lloyd found himself in the referee’s notebook when in the 66th minute he was shown yellow for a clumsy challenge.
The extra man had given Sheffield the advantage, but it was Tristram Whitman who nearly got the equaliser, only to see his shot saved on the line.
A quick Sheffield break in the 74th minute proved decisive and, as Gascoigne dummied the ball, Algar hit his shot into the bottom corner to double their lead.
Six minutes later Rainworth at last found a finish to match as Jack Hawkins pass found Longstaff and he made no mistake.
Two minutes later Rainworth were almost level as Whitman put Longstaff through and only a desperate clearance by Mitchell with his legs prevented the score.
However, Rainworth were tiring and as Shaw failed to clear, Matt Roney drove to the by-line and his cross was hit home by Gascoigne shortly before the referee blew for the end of the match.
In a game where Rainworth had started brightly, their inability to convert their chances and indiscipline when reduced to 10 men cost them dearly.
Reinforcements are desperately needed to a threadbare squad, and quickly, with the transfer deadline looming on Thursday.
RAINWORTH MW: Martin, Edrige, Rickards (Rogers 89), Lloyd, Shaw, Dudley, Coupe (Gregory 81), Magee, Longstaff, Hawkins, Whitman. Subs not used: Williams, M. Clarke.
REFEREE: Andrew Smith.
WRENS’ MAN OF THE MATCH: Callum Lloyd.