RAINWORTH MW seem to have discovered an oasis to quench their thirst for goals when the supply dries up, in the shape of Coalville Town’s Owen Street ground.
Last season the Wrens had by far the worst goals for record in Evo-Stik NPL Division One South, but bucked that woeful trend by thumping the Ravens 5-1 on their own patch.
This season the goals had been easier to come by until a recent drought saw them go into Tuesday night’s Doodson Sport Cup tie at the division leaders having not scored in three matches – and they hit them for six, albeit three of them in extra time.
The Wrens were looking more or less home and dry at 2-1 up through Kieran Walker and Karl Slack with four minutes of the 90 remaining, but then it all went berserk. Coalville hit two quickfire goals to grab the lead and thought they had won it, only for Ricky Hanson to snatch a last gasp leveller and take the tie into extra time.
The Ravens, who had seen their keeper sent off for a second yellow before half time, regained the lead in the opening couple of minutes of the extra half-hour, but Lee Cooksey squared matters just before the turnround, then in the second period a Jared Holmes penalty turned the tie Rainworth’s way again before Walker made certain right at the end.
Manager Kevin Gee saw the whole evening as the perfect antidote to the disappointment of the previous three defeats in which nine goals had been conceded.
Commenting after the cup tie, Gee enthused: “I know from the supporters’ point of view it’s all about winning games, and the reaction to Saturday’s defeat by Chasetown was a prime example as the smiling faces returned, but for me its about the bigger picture.
“We played far better than that against Chasetown and lost the game. Although we won at Coalville, they, being in the position they are in, rested a few key players, but it was still going to be a tough night on an energy-sapping pitch .
“However, leading the game with five minutes to go and Coolville down to 10 men we needed to stay solid and run the clock down, but naivete nearly cost us the game. Thankfully we were given another opportunity when Ricky (Hanson) scored an injury time equaliser and the group were terrific in extra time, ran out deserving winners, and it meant a lot to them.”
Gee had a special word of praise for Lee Cooksey, who was asked to play two unfamiliar roles. “I thought he was terrific in both positions which was a big positive for me,” he continued.
“At the minute I’m happy with the way we are playing in the middle third but we have to improve in both boxes, as although there were some terrific performances both defensively and in the final third, we are still making unforced errors in the back line and need more of a cutting edge and ruthless streak at the other end .
“In the first half we had five good chances to Coalville’s one and came in 1-0 down which at the business end of any season makes the difference. I don’t think we’ve played any differently the whole season but the games we have won , we have had to score three plus goals and again last night we needed to score a minimum of five to win a football game which is unrealistic at this level.
“The Chairman has now given me the opportunity to bring in a striker for the remaining 23 weeks of the season so hopefully we can bring a bit of experience to the front line and, with Dan White soon to be available, his experience will also be invaluable at the back.”
In some ways that cannot come quickly enough, for Gee has had to work with the bare bones of a squad, with not only White, but also Callum Lloyd, Blair Anderson and Jordan Turner not making the trip.
It is hoped that at least some of those absentees will be available when the Wrens travel to lowly Loughborough Dynamo looking to transfer Tuesday’s scoring prowess to league matches and end their run of losses in the bread and butter competition.
Turner had not taken kindly to being named as substitute against Chasetown on Saturday and refused to occupy the bench, leaving the already depleted squad down to two effective subs.
Gee commented: “To be fair, as a manager you have to deal with different issues on a week to week basis, man-managing the group and the various frustrations that occur with players who are not in the starting 11 for particular games, as all players want to do is play football.
“Jordan’s a great kid and a talented young player who is still developing in terms of his football ability, and of course gaining experience in life skills, but unfortunately I cannot excuse incidents that put the club in an unprofessional situation.
“So we have dealt with the matter internally in the appropriate manner, that’s the end of it and we move on.”