NEW Rainworth MW manager Kevin Gee has set his side their target for Evo-Stik NPL Division One South survival.
After seeing his side well beaten 4-1 by leaders Ilkeston in his first match in charge, Gee challenged his troops to win 10 of their remaining 25 games, that is two wins in every five games, and then watched with satisfaction as they promptly responded with the first of those 10 against Leek Town on Tuesday night.
The result lifted the Wrens off the bottom of the table and outside the drop zone to 19th, provided the new boss with his maiden win, and ended Leek’s unbeaten league record on their travels.
It also means that Leek have still to take a point off Rainworth, who completed a league double over them in their debut NPL season last term.
The result was all the more creditable because they played almost the entire second half with 10 men after having midfielder Ian Clarke rather harshly dismissed five minutes in after an altercation with Leek’s Christian Millar.
After the Ilkeston defeat the new boss had called for greater mental concentration, and the players certainly responded with that on Tuesday night.
They took a deserved 2-0 lead into the interval, Nathan Adams’ first two goals for the club finally ending the embarrassing single figure in the ‘goals for’ column of the league table.
And, after Clarke’s dismissal, that mental concentration that Gee had called for was there in abundance.
Gee himself had no problems with Clarke’s red card, saying: “It was a sending off, he raised his hand, he’s an experienced player who should know better, but not so experienced that he cannot learn from his mistakes, and he will do.”
But he was fulsome in his praise of the overall performance, adding: “Every player did the job he was given to do. We were terrific in the first half, and the way 10 men defended the lead and kept their shape was excellent.
“Ian had done well up to that point, and it would have been mortifying for the lad if his moment of indiscretion had cost us the win.
“People will look at Nathan Adams who got the two goals as our star man, but he was far from alone. In particular the way Tommy Hannigan snuffed out the threat of Matt Haddrell delighted me. I had a go at Tommy on Saturday when he made a couple of errors, and he responded with an outstanding performance.
“I was also pleased with the debut of our new lad Stephen Akers, who played a big part in the build to the opening goal.
“After Ian’s dismissal I had to sacrifice Ant Lynam up front to bolster the midfield, but the two left up there, our two ‘whippets’ (Akers and Adams) still did well, and defensively we were superb.
“One win doesn’t make us the finished article, but we take small steps, and I think you can see after one week the transition in the mentality of the whole squad.”
Looking forward to Saturday’s trip to Brigg Town, Gee stressed that there would be no difference in preparation – that would always be the same whether facing the Ilkestons or the fellow strugglers.
He concluded: “Brigg are a good side. I watched them at Hucknall when they clawed back from two down. But having lost their star striker Bruno Holden to Stamford they may be going through a bit of a transitional period.
“If we repeat the level of performance that we showed against Leek there is no reason why we cannot take something from Saturday’s match.”
A coach for Brigg will leave Kirklington Road at 11.30am. Supporters are welcome to travel, and the fare for the return trip is £10. Anyone intending to travel should contact commercial manager Steve Peat (07581 356237) or secretary Les Lee (07740 576958).