Ring-rustiness no excuse, says Rainworth boss

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Rainworth Miners’ Welfare hope to put behind them three weeks of inactivity on Saturday when they look forward to taking on promotion-chasing Coalville Town in the Evo-Stik League Division One South at Kirklington Road on Saturday.

But manager Scott Rickards has sounded a warning that ring-rustiness will not be accepted as any excuse for a below-par performance or a negative result.

In contrast the Ravens have been able to play on both Saturdays when the Wrens have been left to kick their heels.

An ill-timed storm just before kick-off knocked out Rainworth’s home game against Mickleover Sports a fortnight ago, but last week’s trip to Bedworth had looked a non-starter throughout the preceding week.

Some measure of match practice was arranged with an in-house game against their reserves, and the ‘ill wind that blows no-one any good’ principle applied, with Rickards and assistant Matty Clarke having the opportunity to run the rule over some of the young reserves, who are current leaders of the Central Midlands League Reserve Supreme Division.

And, according to Rickards, it was an eye-opener. He said: “I was extremely impressed by the youngsters’ performance. They have some very good players, and Matty and I have identified a couple who we think could be ready to step up to the senior side.

“So playing this game was worthwhile, because some of these lads could have passed under the radar.”

Looking forward to the Coalville game, Rickards said: “We are looking forward to playing a competitive match again, weather permitting. We know how hard it is going to be, Coalville have a very good away record, but although they beat us 4-1 there earlier in the season, there have been a number of changes to our personnel since then.

“But I will not accept any talk of ring rustiness as an excuse if we fail to perform. Players at our level are expected to keep themselves fit during periods of inactivity, and if they have failed to do that they will be found out.”

Rickards accepts that, given the current position of 11th in the division, hopes of a play-off place are now outside ones, but he and the club remain optimistic about putting silverware on the shelf in the form of the Notts Senior Cup.

Last season a threadbare Wrens side bowed out at the semi-final stage at Sutton Town, and they are in semi-final action again on Tuesday at NCEL outfit Retford United.

Ironically, Rickards’ selection options will be tight again, with the recent postponements preventing some of their more recent recruits from achieving their eligibility qualification to play.

But the Wrens boss says that he will be able to put out a full first team which should be capable of booking their place in the final if they repeat their quarter-final performance when they won 5-1 at Midland Alliance Dunkirk.

The Wrens and Retford have figured in some fine cup ties in previous seasons, when Rainworth were the underdogs, and although this was before Rickards’ time, he says he will ensure that the players know how much winning this competition means to those who have been with the club for years.

He said: “I’m not too knowledgeable about the history of matches between the clubs, but I recognise the importance for those who have been around longer at the club, and that importance will be filtered through to the players to make sure that, come 10pm on Tuesday, we will be in a cup final.”