Tabletopping Glossop North End stretched their unbeaten start to the new season to 11 matches with a narrow 2-1 win over struggling Radcliffe Borough in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League’s First Division North.
Although performances matter, it’s results that truly count, so North End were pleased to come away with the three points, despite performing below the standards they have set themselves so far this term.
The key difference between the two sides was the finishing of leading scorer Jamie Rainford. Radcliffe had created a couple of half-chances in the opening ten minutes, with Matt Russell blocking Matthew Davies’s low drive with his body and Greg Hall saving Nathan Valentine’s angled shot. However, Rainford’s first opportunity was clinically taken in the 10th minute to give the Hillmen the advantage. As the ball was played over the backline, he found himself on the edge of the area with a yard of room to manoeuvre and cracked a snapshot into the corner of the net for a sharp finish that surprised the ‘keeper.
Radcliffe nearly hit back when Kevin McGrath’s downward header caused mild panic in the North end box. But eventually the home side got a grip on the game, and always looked like adding to their lead. The flanks proved fruitful and crosses posed danger, with Astley Mulholland going close when his swivelled shot was denied by a combination of goalkeeper and post.
That second goal finally arrived six minutes into the second half when a corner was swung in from the right. It just cleared the top of Dave Young’s head, but fell to the feet of Rainford who, inexplicably, had acres of space and eons of time to pick his spot. He did just that, curling a shot into the far netting for his ninth goal of the season.
Rainford nearly made it ten with a free kick that flew just over the bar minutes later. But from there, Glossop seemed to relax, and when Michael Bowler turned a dangerous low cross behind for a corner, it almost signalled a sea change. Indeed Radcliffe duly pulled a goal back on 61 minutes when Martyn Andrews tripped a player in the box and Sam McMahon stepped up to beat Hall with the spot-kick.
The game went flat for a spell, but Radcliffe pressed harder and with 15 minutes to go, ‘keeper Hall was forced into a terrific save low at his post when a whipped free-kick was head backwards by Bowler.
They continued to push, without creating too much, and deep into injury-time, there was a real scare when substitute Elliott Rokka fell dramatically in the area, claiming he had been impeded. Very few had a clear view of it, so the Glossop faithful held their breath befores the referee ignored the appeals and played on.