Dronfield Town hit the top ten of the Northern Counties East League Division One, broke the fifty point barrier and claimed their sixth win in seven games with victory over Rainworth Miners Welfare. A first half free kick and a second half penalty for Connor Chapell secured the win for the Derbyshire side, who now have four games left in the campaign to secure as high a finish as possible. Only one of those games is at their HE Barnes Stadium home ground as Town face a Doncaster double next week with trips to Armthorpe and Rossington.
Seventeenth-placed Rainworth started with plenty of spirit, obviously keen to secure the points that would secure their safety but it was Dronfield who had the first chance of the encounter.
On 10 minutes, Callum Mawbey cut in from the right hand side and unleashed a piledriver that Lewis Scott in the Rainworth goal could only palm away.
Rainworth skipper Kieran Coupe had a 20 yard free kick that skipped wide of Lewis Naylor’s right hand post 7 minutes later and Scott saved at the feet of Mawbey as the striker made room to shoot on 21 minutes.
Dronfield continued to have the better of the chances and on 24 minutes, a nice passing move ended with Town youngster Isaac Knight firing over the bar from the edge of the area.
Dronfield took the lead just past the half hour mark. Town target man Callum Mawbey was brought down at the edge of the area by Rainworth’s Kyle Hempshall, who earned a yellow card for his troubles. Connor Chapell stepped up with an exquisite left footed free kick that nestled in the top corner of the goal past the despairing dive of Scott to make it 1-0.
The visitors continued to show plenty of commitment however and a minute before the break, Lewis Naylor saved at point blank range from Hempshall’s powerful header to see his side maintain their half time advantage.
Hopes that Dronfield would push on from their lead after the break were unfounded. Town manager Chris Millington was audibly unhappy, urging his side to ‘get out of bed’ as Rainworth spent long spells camped in the home side’s half. On 69 minutes, alarm bells rang as Welfare’s Kane Hempshall produced an acrobatic half volley that just went wide of Naylor’s far post.
Millington’s fears were allayed in the final fifteen minutes of the encounter. Tom Gladwin’s bullet header was cleared off the line from Ethan Flower’s nearside corner with Dronfield rattling the crossbar on the follow up.
The second goal came in unusual fashion but secured the win for the home side. Referee Mr Gallagher pointed to the spot when an off the ball incident left Town’s Ethan Flower on the floor in the area despite the ball being some way away from the scene. Up stepped Connor Chapell to drive the penalty kick home low and hard for his and Dronfield’s second of the game.
Dronfield found time to give a debut from the bench to the latest product from their development teams Demi Timms, who managed one useful run late in the encounter before his side were confirmed as 2-0 winners.
Dronfield now claim tenth place in the table and hit the fifty point mark with this latest victory. They face four games to conclude the season, three of which are on the road, in a bid to secure as a high a finish as possible. Trips to eleventh-placed Armthorpe in midweek and fifth-placed Rossington next Saturday now await the men from S18.
Dronfield Town: Naylor, Bebbington, Gladwin, Lester, Mike Fereday, Wright, Chapell, Rooke, Mawbey, Knight, Ord. Subs: Hatton, Siddons, Flower, Timms, Terry.
Rainworth Miners Welfare: Scott, Coupe, Craggs, Kyle Hempshall, Weston, Kane Hempshall, Scott, Wootton, Benger, Boyle, Simpson. Subs: Williamson, Fisher, Neville, Hewitt, Hardman.
Photo: Michelle Bell