RAINWORTH MW return to action this weekend following a fortnight’s break looking forward to a massive week ahead.
It all starts on Saturday with a home game against in-form Halesowen Town followed on Tuesday night by a Notts Senior Cup quarter-final tie at Dunkirk, before next weekend’s trip to Chasetown.
And, with one eye on the longer term future, boss Kevin Gee has called for more backing from local business in the Mansfield area.
The Wrens will be looking to complete an Evo-Stik NPL Division One South double against the Yeltz after winning 3-1 at The Grove back in October.
Since then the West Midlands side, unbeaten in 2013, have pushed themselves right back into contention for a play-off-place with six straight league victories during which time during which they have scored 19 goals and conceded just two – 12 of the 19 scored having come from hotshot Ben Haseley who has 36 goals to his credit in all competitions this season.
Gee can only look at Haseley’s record and wish, as he continues to be frustrated in his search for a striker to take some of the pressure off Conor Higginson up front.
However, the manager has used the break to bring in two new players, and with both skipper Mark Camm and Dan White expected to be fit to face Halesowen, leaving only Danny Bacon unavailable through injury – although Callum Lloyd will sit out the first of his three match ban following his red card in the Notts Senior Cup tie at Newark Town. However, Gainsborough Trinity have extended Jonathan Williams’ loan period for a further month.
The two new boys, goalkeeper James Lindley and defender Damian Magee, are both highly rated by Gee, who previously had them at Glapwell, but they replace outgoing keeper Joe McCormack (Mickleover Sports) and winger Blair Anderson (Carlton Town).
Gee is hoping that the two week lay-off will see his side raring to go as they bid to end Halesowen’s sparkling form of late.
Looking forward to the coming week, he said: “We went into the break on the back of a positive result against Romulus, which was important to us, but we face a tough week. Halesowen are the division’s current form team and the Senior Cup tie at Dunkirk is a massive one for us because we have targeted that cup.
“Both James and Damian will be excellent acquisitions for us. James is a top, top keeper, and will again see us with two first class players in that position along with Ali Barcherini. It was necessary to act with Joe moving on, because if Ali were to get injured against Halesowen we would be left without a keeper for the Senior Cup tie.
“Damian is a natural left-footer who will add balance to the side at left back, which has been a bit of a problem position for us because it’s not the natural position of either of the players how have filled in there this season.
“Ryan Goward gives us so much more when he gets forward, while Ricky Hanson’s natural berth is on the right, so while both have done well at left back for us this season, Damian’s arrival will give us a more balanced look. And both new players will be important in the longer term development of the club.”
While still looking to add to his strike force, Gee will continue to push one of his midfielders forward alongside Higginson.
But he continued: “We have been playing some great passing football in midfield, but we are tending to still keep passing the ball around in the 18-yard box, where a more established striker would be inclined to have a go at goal.”
Meanwhile, while the Wrens have sat out the last couple of weeks they have been pushed down to 14th in the Division One South table, and Gee has called for the Wrens’ fans to remain realistic.
He pointed out: “When we have been up into the play-off zone the fans see dropping back to just below half way as negative, but if the balance of results had been spread out through the season I think the fans would have been delighted to see us where we are now.
“With 12 games to go we have already won more than we won all last season and are only a couple of points short of last season’s points tally.
“We want to finish strongly in the league and we have targeted the Senior Cup as winnable, but we also need to strike a balance at this stage of the season between spending money now to achieve those aims against banking it for a push next season, when the fans will again expect us to finish higher than this year.”
He added: “I believe football at this level is about three things – a fan base, an income stream, and security. I think we are at the top of the tree in our league in terms of security, but we don’t have the other two, and it’s those two which pay players’ wages week by week.
“Consequently we need to find a way of working on those two aspects so that we can remain competitive in this division and fulfil the club’s hopes of continuing development on and off the field.
“We do need more investment at the club and we would like more supporters through the gate, as it can be frustrating as a manager when you are trying to achieve success on an uneven playing field, but it has to be sustainable and realistic as the club is far bigger than any individuals ambitions.
“So I would appeal to any local businesses out there interested in getting involved at grass roots level to get in touch with myself at the club (07983 991424) or the chairman or any other committee members, if you are interested in playing a small or large part of the club’s progression.
“Obviously it would give more security if we could spread the costs over a consortium of four or five individuals or companies.
“With the area’s senior club Mansfield Town also making huge steps to try and get back into the Football League, you can see that there’s no better feeling than watching a number of people in your community reaping rewards through your small investments, or your advice and expertise, which is just as important when establishing an infrastructure and the correct foundations for the club to sustain its status in the Northern Premier League over the next ten years.”