Manager Kevin Gee has called on his troops to end the season on a high note when they sign off for 2012-13 against Gresley at Kirklington Road tomorrow.
The Rainworth MW boss is looking to top 50 points for the first time since the Wrens’ promotion to Evo-Stik NPL Division One South but, with 48 currently on the board, only a win will see that 50 target achieved.
Rainworth lost 3-0 at Gresley in November but have taken eight points from their last four unbeaten games, the latest last Saturday’s 1-1 draw against the then title-chasing Coalville Town when the Ravens scored a late equaliser. Coalville have now conceded the title to Kings Lynn Town, but Saturday’s result was put into perspective when Coalville trounced Leek Town 4-0 at Harrison Park on Tuesday night, only to see the Linnets deny them the title with a 2-1 win over Sheffield.
Speaking after Saturday’s game, which was watched by new chairman-elect Mark Hawkins, Gee commented: “Today was a really important game for us as it reinforced how far we have come with this season’s group of players and more importantly as a club.
“Out of the 19 games this season where we haven’t taken points, in at least half of those games we should have, but with a 16-man squad all year and no recognised experienced strikers other than the odd cameo appearance from Ian Holmes, who averaged nearly a goal a game, it’s been a fantastic effort.
“We’ve also embedded four of our development squad from within into the first team environment which can only bode well for the future.
“Before Saturday’s game we would of course have been delighted with a draw against a top two side. On reflection, though we probably deserved all three points, we couldn’t quite get the second goal that would have killed the game. With big rewards at stake for the visitors they took more risks as the game went on allowing us to counter attack quickly, but it wasn’t to be and a knock down resulted in a late equaliser which was a little bit disappointing.
“But the way we controlled most of the game was certainly encouraging both for the backroom staff and new chairman in the stands taking their first look at the team in a match environment.”
On the subject of the impact of new chairman Mark Hawkins, Gee said: “I know after speaking to our supporters after the game there is a lot of expectation from within about next season already but there is still a lot of work to do to implement and put in place the correct infrastructure going forward to take the club onto the next level in its development, as well as sustaining that progress without burdening people with constant top ups.
“Really it’s about expectation and reality. If you look at the last two seasons in the Evo-Stik South, champions Grantham and Kings Lynn had the two biggest budgets, primarily based upon the two biggest factors in non-league football which are fan base and income stream.
“As for the four teams that finish in the play-offs, from a board level and management level, for me that’s another is another successful season, boards backing their management staff to deliver , the staff delivering with a combination of having a successful recruitment and delivering a style of play from within the group of players to take you into the play-offs where you need a bit of luck, but getting there over 42 games is a success.
“For the other 17 teams it has to be one of reflection and looking at whether or not you have achieved your objectives. For those who have been given financial support to try and achieve a play-off position and have missed out, you have to look at the reasons why they haven’t delivered, without necessarily having a knee jerk reaction and look at making changes.
“For others with no financial support to compete, success will be judged on whether or not they managed to finish second from bottom or better and retain membership for another year which for them would be a fantastic season.
”As for us, I’m really pleased that that we have achieved our objectives that we set out to do. When I came to the club the Evo-Stik embraced our club because of the fantastic facilities we have which I think are as good as any in the league, and the hospitality we have shown throughout our membership.
“But we were not really respected as a competitive football club that could have an effect in the league, which I think has now totally changed.
“We have a fantastic group of players at the minute that we need to retain as so much work has gone into them already, but we need to strengthen in areas that we have identified with a bit more quality and, more importantly, we need to have more depth as at least eight of our players have played over 50 games with no respite in between.
“I must also say a big thank you to my staff, Dave Lester, the physio who replaced Kelly Beswick mid-season, and to Ian Whyte the first team coach who I have had the pleasure of working with since November.
“I have had the luxury of working with some great technicians over the years as a player but Ian is the best I’ve ever worked with in terms of his fine detail, and the way he gets that message over to the group, and I’m excited about doing the same next season, especially pre-season where all the ground work and preparation is done for the new season.
“Pre-season will start earlier than normal this year and the squad will return back to training on the week beginning 10th June, which gives the players a five-week break rather than the traditional eight, so it allows us more time to bed the new squad together, which will be invitational only, ready for the new campaign.
“However we still have one game to go to sign this season off and a win takes us over the 50 points marker which would be great to sign off with.
“Gresley are a very good side so it will be another tough game at home, but it would be nice to see another sizeable crowd at Kirklington Road to give the place a bit of an atmosphere and finish the season off on a high.”