Like most of the club’s supporters, Rainworth MW manager Scott Rickards was still in shock this week following Saturday’s heavy defeat at Kidsgrove Athletic.
The Grove had gone into the match on the back of six straight defeats and were languishing at the foot of Division One South of the Evo-Stik League.
But a second half burst of three goals in four minutes, followed soon afterwards for a fourth from the penalty spot left Rainworth licking their wounds, and although they did stage a late rally to pull one back, the result was one of the egg-on-face variety.
Said Rickards: “What did me was not just the result but the manner of the defeat. Obviously we don’t go out looking to lose games, but you can’t make excuses for individual players, and it wasn’t just the young ones, the senior players must share some of the responsibility too.
“It seems to have been our Achilles’ heel all season that when we have made individual mistakes we have been punished, and it was everyone all over the pitch. There seemed to be no passion, no desire to go out and win a football match for the club which is employing the players, and that is something I’ve never had to question before.
“For 50 minutes we were probably the better side, as a player it felt comfortable, we’d had some good spells of possession and created the better chances in the first half, so it seemed a case of just managing the game to get ourselves in front. Had we done that I felt we would have been capable of holding on to the lead.
“Instead we committed suicide in 11 mad minutes to concede four goals. That is unacceptable, and at this stage of the season I need players to stand up and be counted.”
Rickards knows that although fielding a team of youngsters may have long term benefits, there may be a price to pay in the shorter term.”
He continued: “We have no real option. I have to pick a team working to a budget, and if the budget I am given does not enable me to go out and sign experienced players who have done it at this level, then we have to go down the road of young players who may be enthusiastic, but because they are inexperienced they may also be inconsistent.
“If I had £1,500 to £2,000 a week to spend on experienced players then the likes of Sam Saunders, Kieran Walker, James Cullingworth and Jordan Ball would still be here and fighting to get into the play-offs. But we are not in that position.
“I still believe we can get it back on Saturday against Romulus. Last week’s result looked bad, but for all but 11 minutes we were comfortable. However, we can only go with the same squad and the same mentality, so we need to see what I believe they have to offer coming to fruition.”