Nootinghamshire FA Senior Cup Semi Final
at Kirklington Road, Rainworth
Rainworth MW (0) 0
Basford United (0) 2
Ben Hutchinson 65, 89
Admission £5. Programme £1(inc. team sheet)
Ben Hutchinson and Kieran Wells formed a double attacking spearhead for the visitors, but found the Wrens central defensive pairing of Connor Griffin and Jack Weatherell, to be probably just as awkward a proposition to break down as anything that they'll come up against in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League (South).
Although Townsend, the Rainworth keeper, was sent the wrong way on both occasion's, he did little else wrong all night.
The home side were in the ascendancy during the first half and were left to rue a string of missed chances, but Basford upped the ante after the interval, with Robbie McNicholas and Jamie Walker pushing forward from their full back berths and offering more width and options to the attack, while Fabian Smith caught the eye, putting in a shift and a half from midfield.
Rainworth went close inside the second minute, when Weatherell narrowly failed to get a touch on the ball at the back stick, from Matty Sykes drilled pass across the face of Jake Wood's goal.
Play switched to the other end and Weatherell's outstretched leg, as he attempted to block a shot from Kieran Wells, forced the prolific striker to raise his effort and he cleared the crossbar.
Walker swung a cross into the six yard box, but with Hutchinson and Wells advancing, Townsend dropped to one knee and gathered the ball safely.
The lively Sykes broke into the visitors goalmouth, but McNicholas had tracked him back and got enough of a touch on the ball to nudge it towards his keeper who made a save.
But Sykes went close again shortly afterwards, with Wood thwarting him again as he unleashed a thumping shot.
The Wells v Weatherell duel, was an intriguing contest all night and the Lincoln City youngster, who is on work experience and turning out for the Wrens (and getting some rave reviews) to get some valuable match time, was doing a good job of marking Wells.
But Kieran will keep making run after run all night and he'll always find himself the time and a yard of space at some point, to get a few efforts on target... and sure enough, around the half hour mark, he escaped his marker and crashed a powerful shot inches over the bar.
Wood did well to save at the feet of both Declan Brewin and Matt Harris as the home side found a gap through the middle of Basford's rearguard and Tomas Poole was unlucky to see his hooked effort from just outside the area drop on top of the goal net with Wood beaten.
In spite of Rainworth throwing everything they had at their Nottingham based opponents, with Harris going agonisingly close to opening the scoring on a couple of the occasions, and both Phil Buxton and Jordan Claxton both delivering some quality crosses into the Basford goalmouth, the best chance to break the deadlock before half time came ten minutes before the break and fell to Wells, who leapt (like a musclebound salmon) to meet a right wing corner at the back post and took aim towards the top corner of the Wrens goal, with a firmly planted close range header, but he was denied when Townsend tipped the ball over at full stretch to pull off a quality save.
Rainworth had the better of the first half, but during the break, their visitors made a few tweaks to their game plan and were pretty much on top for long spells in the second.
Kyle Dixon was building up a head of steam towards the Wrens area and Basford had players over and were numerically about to over run their hosts at the back, so Weatherell weighed up the situation, pondered his options and did the maths and, showing maturity beyond his years executed Dixon on the spot (almost) and collected a yellow card for committing what is best described as in the game as a 'professional foul'... so he was certainly stamping on thin ice when he nobbled Grantham in the final minute.
Wells went close again, Tyrelle Shannon-Lewis miscued a shot from just outside the area wide of Townsend's goal and it was now Rainworth's turn to withstand a few dangerous looking attacks, although they did nearly snatch the lead against the run of play, when Claxton released Nick Langford through the left channel and he poked the ball just past the wrong side of the left hand upright.
Townsend dealt with a cross from Grantham towards Wells, but there was very little he could do two minutes later when Basford took the lead from their first penalty.
Smith weaved impressively past three Rainworth players, as he ran deep into Rainworth territory from near the halfway line, but fell over as he was about to unleash a shot from ten yards.
Townsend found himself sandwiched between Hutchinson and Wells and the latter managed to nudge the ball away from the ensuing kerfuffle, but it rolled across the face of the goal and wide of theright hand upright.
Wood saved bravely at the feet of Harris once again and neded some treatment before he could carry on.
I checked my phone to see what the temperature was, as Rainworth carried on battling and making a decent fist of trying to force the game into extra time. Having scraped the ice off of the screen, I found a picture of a woolly mammoth and a message from Google saying: "The last time it was this cold at night these creatures became extinct. Go home Stupid!"
But Weatherell took control of the situation and performed a perfectly executed 'no ji' judo throw on Grantham in full view of the referee, which gave Hutchinson the opportunity inside the final minute to put the game to bed, steer Basford through to the final against either Carlton Town or Teversal and save 114 spectators from suffering from the effects of chilblains, hot aches and extreme frostbite.
Even with three minutes of stoppage time, there was no way back for Rainworth, who done themselves and the NCEL proud with their unstinting efforts tonight.
The second semi final will take place at Carlton's ground next Wednesday, if it is half as eventful as tonight's game, anybody going to watch will be in for a treat.
FT: Rainworth MW 0 v Basford United 2
On Saturday, Rainworth travel to Barton Town Old Boys for the first of three NCEL away games in a row, while Basford travel down to Warwickshire to face Rugby Town.