Rainworth defeat Matlock in last pre-season friendly

Stephen Akers -  picture by Dan Westwell
Stephen Akers - picture by Dan Westwell

A HEARTENING final pre-season 2-1 victory over Premier Division Matlock Town was just what the doctor ordered before Rainworth MW launch their Evo-Stik NPL Division One South season at home to Sutton Coldfield Town on Saturday.

Wrens manager Kevin Gee says he is still looking to bring in one more new face, but with almost a full squad to choose from for the Gladiators’ friendly his new look side came up trumps, with a pleasing performance to match the victory.

Gee is under no illusions about the task facing his side in the opening two matches. He said: “A lot of people think Sutton Coldfield will win the division this season, and after them we go to Mickleover Sports, who have just come down from the Premier Division, for a midweek game, so it’s a tough start.

“There will be 42 cup finals and no easy games this season, but we are going into a season for the first time looking like an Evo-Stik side capable of competing at this level, and not a Northern Counties East side trying to punch above its weight.

“It makes a massive difference starting a new season with tried and tested Northern Premier League players.”

Only central defender Matt Plant, wing back Kieran Walker and goalkeeper Alessandro Barcherini were missing from the squad which faced Matlock, and after concerns at soft goals being given away there looked a touch more steel at the back on Saturday.

Gee continued: “We were much more organised defensively, we scored goals, and we didn’t sacrifice playing good football in order to achieve those aims.

“There must have been six or seven passes before Ian Holmes crossed for Blair Anderson to supply a great finish. Blair is naturally gifted and brings to the table a raw talent.

“And again, the movement which brought about the penalty at the end was excellent, a reverse pass from Stephen Akers, Antwon Bonnick fouled as he tried to capitalise, and Stephen put away a perfect spot kick.

“Results aren’t that important in pre-season games, but a win like this was a big confidence boost, and in training this week we’ll be working on a few details.

“We needed a win after a couple of defeats when we have shot ourselves in the foot, for instance against Stocksbridge the week before we lost a game 3-1 which we could have won 6-3.

“But playing teams above us and showing that we are more than capable of winning such games gives us good reason to believe that we will be OK.

“We have both creativity and steel in midfield, we look like scoring goals, but after the Matlock game we can also say that we don’t look like conceding many again either.”

Gee concluded with words of encouragement for those who will not make the squad on the opening day.

“With a squad of 21, but only 16 shirts available on Saturday, five will be disappointed, but there will be injuries and movements in a long season which will give them their chance, and I’m hoping to be able to keep them all together,” he ended.

Rainworth will travel to United Counties Premier side Sleaford Town in the preliminary round of the FA Cup on Saturday week. Sleaford defeated East Midlands Counties Holwell Sports 2-0 in Saturday’s extra preliminary round tie.