UCL Division One - Bourne Town 1 Rushden & Higham United 0
If Bourne Town continue their steady rise up UCL Division One after their latest win over Rushden and Higham United, there may be another ‘Rafa the gaffer’ earning hero status.
Even after taking into account the world of difference between taking Liverpool to a Champions League title and bringing much-needed stability to the Wakes, Rafa Mazzarella just might be getting an idea of the acclaim in which his namesake Benitez is held at Anfield.
At Abbey Lawn on Saturday, the Wakes were out of the blocks quickly as Charlie Wallace’s free-kick on four minutes led to a chance for midfield playmaker Henry Dunn, only for him to half-volley straight at Rushden keeper Craig Patterson.
Four minutes later, eventual match-winner Scott Spearink lobbed over the bar from 40 yards after referee Jack Partridge played an advantage when winger Aris Placis was upended during the Wakes’ counter-attack.
At the other end, Bourne centre-half Dan Smith caused his team-mates a moment of panic after 17 minutes when he conceded a free-kick 18 yards out, only for Rushden set-piece taker Jory Mann to lift his effort over Aaron Fagan’s bar.
However, Fagan knew nothing about the point-blank save with his chest from a Rushden corner that Bourne failed to clear and Lankies’ central midfielder Aaron Campion blasted towards goal from ten yards out.
Harley Williams should have done better when a fast break saw him shoot over from 18 yards and just before half-time, Dunn slid a pass to Wallace who crossed into the side netting.
What the Wakes were doing well was restricting their opponents to set-piece goal-scoring chances only, except on 49 minutes when a Lewis O’Dell high cross was missed by Alex Paterson at the near post when it was asking to be headed past Fagan.
Rushden skipper Tyler Merries struck a 25-yard free-kick wide before Williams should have put Bourne in front when set up by Placis and having his close-range shot smothered by Lankies goalkeeper Patterson.
Wakes substitute Jones de Sousa and Dunn missed half chance before they finally took the lead as Spearink slammed home a loose ball from 12 yards after a free-kick.
Rushden’s chances of an equaliser were effectively ended when Mann was sent off after a challenge on Bourne skipper Aaron Jesson, a tackle which led to an ugly scuffle in the Bourne half.
Placis, de Sousa and Williams should have made the game safe in added-on time, but Bourne did enough to collect their second league win in a row.
4-2-3-1: Fagan 7; Elger 7, Jesson 7, Smith 7, Wilson 8; Moss 6, Dunn 7; Williams 7, Wallace 6 (sub de Sousa 62 mins, 7), Placis 8; Spearink 7 (sub Mason 85 mins). Sub not used: Walklin.
RUSHDEN & HIGHAM UNITED
4-4-2: Patterson; Birtwhistle, Merries, Kalla, Cormack; Mann, Pendered, Campion, Paterson; O’Dell, Dyson. Subs not used: O’Connor, Scott.
Spearink (74 mins, 1-0).
Jesson (unsporting behaviour), Birthwhistle (foul).
Mann (dangerous play).
Scott Spearink – ploughing a lone furrow up front is a thankless task at any level of football, but Spearink’s commitment to the cause was deservedly rewarded with the goal that eventually won a tight match.
Blackstones (A) – Saturday (2pm).