TWO completely different Rainworth MW sides have exited two cup competitions this week, leaving managers Lee Wilkinson and Billy Millar to reflect on what they described as ‘Central Midlands League errors’.
The Wrens fought back from 2-0 down to square matters in the FA Cup at fellow Evo-Stik NPL Division One South club New Mills on Saturday, only to concede yet another set piece winner to the Millers.
Then despite having rung the changes to the extent that only three players who began that game also started Wednesday night’s League Challenge Cup tie against Stamford, more kamikaze defending plus a highly contentious stoppage time penalty saw them beaten again, this time 2-1.
Only Ricky Hanson, Lee Cooksey and new boy Danny Bacon, who made his debut at New Mills after joining from Worksop Town, started in both matches, and all three played in different positions for the Stamford tie.
The Wrens also included debutant Zeke Jenkins from Loughborough Dynamo for his debut on Wednesday, while goalkeeper Joe McCormack and left back Jamie Goodacre were making their competitive debuts after picking up injuries in pre-season.
Millar was left to reflect afterwards that he half wished that someone would ‘come along and beat us 3-0’, bemoaning: “It’s always one goal and more often than not a controversial one.
“It seems to be every game alike. We know we’re knocking on the door, but we can’t go on having bad luck after bad luck, because in the end you make your own luck.”
He added: “I can’t say I was disappointed by the overall performances either at New Mills or against Stamford, and although we made a lot of changes for the Stamford game I don’t think you could call it a weakened side.”
Managerial partner Wilkinson pointed out: “We’ve got a big squad so the League Cup tie was an opportunity to give players who have not been figuring a chance.
“In both matches there has been nothing between the two teams except that we have given some stupid goals away by ‘Central Midlands’ defending leading to gift goals.
“It’s getting to the stage where teams know they don’t have to come here and win, they just have to wait for us to gift them a goal.”
Even that hotly debated stoppage time penalty came about following an error at the back, when substitute Lee Briggs was penalised for hands.
Wilkinson said: “We couldn’t see from where we were whether it was a penalty or not, but Lee said he was on the floor with his back to the ball when it was kicked at him from close range and it certainly wasn’t deliberate hands, and we have to accept what he says.
“But regardless of that, the ball had come across into the area as a result of an error at the back, and their first goal came because we messed up in the six yard box, tried to dribble it out and got caught. You just cannot defend like that at this level and get away with it.
“To be fair, we rested our regular central defenders who have done magnificently for us so far, but it wasn’t just at the back that we made mistakes.
“Stamford were an average side at this level, not great but not bad either, but there were times when we had four on three or three on two and chose the wrong option – maybe it was down to as many as eight players coming into the side and trying that bit too hard to stake their claim.
“Yes, we looked OK at times, but we’re still not quite where a side with our quality should be. It’s getting better but we are not quite there yet, and you can’t go on being the ‘nearly men’ of the division.”
Meanwhile, despite the arrival of Bacon and Jenkins, who both showed up well against Stamford, the Wrens’ management’s efforts to bring in other new players have been frustrated by other clubs gazumping them for players they are on the verge of signing.
Said Wilkinson: “We are still speaking to three or four players but they are also speaking to other clubs who can offer more money than we can. We can’t offer huge amounts of money, so we have to try to sell other aspects the club to them.”
This weekend the Wrens entertain second-placed Sutton Coldfield Town as they return to the quest for league points.
Looking forward to the match, Wilkinson said: “Last Saturday we played New Mills who are top and gave them a very good game. We expect this Saturday to be similar, but again we have to stop giving away set pieces which cost us goals. If we can get rid of that aspect of our game we have a chance of winning it.”
The Wrens will be without injured striker Sean Cann, while defenders Cameron Fearon and Rob Paling and striker Danny Simpson are understood to be still a couple of weeks away from fitness.
Rainworth joint boss Lee Wilkinson has gone on record to express his thanks to Worksop Town manager Martin McIntosh for agreeing to waive the seven days’ notice of approach for experienced striker Danny Bacon so that he could figure in the FA Cup tie at New Mills.
Rainworth’s home and away matches against Sheffield have both been re-arranged. The home game, originally scheduled for Tuesday, 4th October, has been brought forward to Saturday week, 17th September, after both sides exited the FA Cup last week.
Meanwhile, the Wrens will now travel to Sheffield on 4th October, that game being brought forward from 22nd November.