CHAMPIONS Rimington produced one of their worst performances in a while, but, thanks to their team spirit, were able to come away with an ill-deserved point.
It all started well, as early as the fourth minute, as Kershaw’s half-clearance was helped on by Dinsdale to Lloyd, who flicked a header into the path of Tom Eglin, the striker racing through before firing home into the bottom corner to make it 1-0.
He had a golden chance to double the lead but tamely headed wide.
His strike partner Lloyd, who was well below par by his standards, then looped a Fagan corner onto the crossbar in the 12th minute.
The visitors then seemed to switch off and allowed Vale to gain momentum, and they paid a heavy price on 20 minutes.
An attack built up down the right before the ball was played inside, where a midfielder was left totally unmarked, and he fired in a shot which bounced awkwardly in front of Kershaw, the big man almost chesting the ball away but into the path of a striker, who made no mistake to equalise.
The home side now dominated and had several good situations, Rimington having to defend a string of corners, which they managed to deal with.
The villagers did create of couple of opportunities to re-take the lead.
Walmsley played in Lloyd over the top but his volley was screwed wide, and then Lloyd squared for Eglin, whose effort was well blocked by the keeper.
Kershaw was the busier keeper though, and he did well to save at the feet of a forward, tipping another chance over the bar.
He was well protected too, by Dinsdale and McCarthy, even though it must be said the latter was having an off day.
He wasn’t the only one, and Rimington were grateful to still be level at half-time.
Having the time to discuss how the game was going and to re-focus seemed to have the desired effect, the champions starting the second half as they had the first, skipper Sargeson leading by example, weaving in and out of players before his attempted pass was blocked by a defender’s hand.
A penalty was awarded, but Lloyd, however, fired it wide of the target.
His frustration was obvious, and in the 53rd minute he tried an overhead kick, a sure sign of desperation as it sailed over the bar.
Calder, playing up the slope, started to dominate again, and Gawthorpe was booked for fouling his man on the edge of the area, but his side were to pay the ultimate price.
The wall blocked the free kick, but the rebound was beautifully curled into the bottom corner to make it 2-1 on the hour mark.
Rimington lost a bit of shape as they chased the game, Eglin and Fagan making way for McLean and Rakshi.
Vale took the chance to extend their lead when a forward beat the off-side trap to race clear, and even though Kershaw managed to save his first attempt, he was fortunate to get the rebound and slot home.
Tempers frayed a little, the referee handing yellow cards out in a game in which there were very few bad tackles, but it was the two Rimington substitutes who got their side playing again.
Rakshi ran at defenders, and McLean, linked up well with the midfield, who could now press forward and make runs to support – something they had been unable to do previously.
Finally, a touch of pure class in the 85th minute reduced the arrears, when Lloyd thundered home a ferocious volley from 20 yards which screamed into the top corner.
And worse was to come for the home side as Sargeson showed great composure, beating players on his way into the area, and even though the keeper got a hand to his chip, McLean was on hand to finish and snatch a point for his team.
Terry Braithwaite was obviously unhappy with the performance: “We only played properly for around a quarter of the game, which is not acceptable, and if we continue to play like that, then we can wave goodbye to our title chances.
“The positive aspect was our undoubted spirit at the end and, who knows, we may look back upon this point as invaluable. We can and must play better though, we have some huge games coming up and we won’t get away with lacklustre performances in them.”
This week sees a trip to Earby in the Craven Cup before a home game with title contenders Worsthorne on the 24th.