A first half penalty kick from former Rainworth MW player Jordan Turner was all that was needed to decide Saturday’s first pre-season friendly in favour of NCEL Division One Shirebrook Town at Kirklington Road.
But Wrens manager Kevin Gee was happy with what he saw, despite defeat by a visting side that contained six ex-Rainworth players and, had Mark Camm been available, it would have been seven.
Said Gee: “ I thought today was a perfect work-out for both teams. It was played as a pre-season game should be, concentrating on organisational structure rather than the result on an energy-sapping afternoon.
“Whilst both teams were short of key players, it gave me a chance to look at both the existing and new players who have joined the squad pre-season.
“The main objective of the afternoon was how we were looking defensively, as six of our seven defenders were available for the game with only Mark Dudley unavailable.”
The one minor blemish for the Wrens was the slight strain Sam Saunders picked up, that will put him back a couple of weeks.
However, the manager was still upbeat, adding: “I was really pleased as I thought we looked comfortable in possession, looked big and strong the few times the ball was actually in the air, and kept a clean sheet from set plays, which will be really important to us during the season.
“I thought Matt Varley looked like he’d been with us all last season, as he fitted in seamlessly as both right and left central defender.
“With James Martin signing for the club after the game, we now have a goalkeeper with Evo-Stik experience, and with Sam Andrews doing well in the second period I’m pleased where we are defensively with still six weeks to go before the start of the new season.
“With Danny Buttle, Jared Holmes, Ryan Goward, and Ricky Hanson all unavailable and, of course, Grant Ryan, who is making terrific progress, but probably won’t be ready until September, we were always going to be a bit light of attacking options.
“I thought for 70 minutes Adam Soames and Jamie Brown did really well and will improve when they get a little bit fitter.
“A major plus was Scott Rickards, who did really well, especially second half, despite his lack of fitness, and I was pleased with the number of chances we created, albeit we are still a work in progress.”
Gee is also well aware of the need to acquire a couple of strikers, sooner rather than later, to bolster the attacking options.
It his opinion that once they are acquired, the squad will then be, he believes, the best he has assembled since he came to the club
“I’m hoping to secure at least one striker for us this week to build on Saturday’s performance against Ollerton Town,” he said.
“In possession today we looked comfortable with the ball whereas out of possession it was about improving our fitness.
“Although I do appreciate that from our fans’ perspective it’s about results, my job, however, is making sure the squad is physically ready for the season’s start on 17th August.
“I am confident that we will be strategically and tactically functional by that time, when the tough campaign begins.”
In closing Gee was in a philosophical mood, saying: “I think this season will be the toughest ever Evo-Stik South League for over five years with every club having the potential to do well.
“When I first arrived at Rainworth the only talk was about relegation and staying in the division. Last year we achieved 14th position with a total of 51 points, and this season the expectancy is much higher with some fans even thinking play-offs.
“I am confident when the squad is complete, that they will have the potential to better last season’s achievements, but time will be the judge.”