RAINWORTH MW 1 ILKESTON 4
THERE was to be no fairytale result in new Rainworth boss Kev Gee’s first game in charge as Saturday’s derby game went to form with the bottom placed Wrens crashing 4-1 at home to Evo-Stik NPL Division One South leaders Ilkeston.
Ilkeston created the better chances before taking a 24th minute lead through a Ricky Hanson own goal after a mistake by home keeper Joe McCormack, who had an uncertain game.
The Robins then took an iron grip to lead 3-0 and seal the points before half-time before a 353 crowd.
The expected big away following from Ilkeston did turn up. And, with the crowd also expected to be swelled by Mansfield Town fans, offered reduced admission and a chance to bait Ilkeston striker Gary Ricketts, who put three Stags players in hospital in a pre-season friendly, there was a large police presence at Kirklington Road.
But potential trouble did not materialise and Ricketts ended up head and shoulders the man of the match with a powerful display up front and some sterling defensive work too.
It was a comprehensive win and new boss Gee said: “I am under no illusions and I know coming here is a tough ask.
“But if I didn’t think I was up to the challenge I wouldn’t be here.
“The key between bottom and top in this league is mental concentration. We have some good players here but we conceded four preventable goals. We gifted them all four.
“There were a lot of positives and our work ethic was good. But we had a bad spell and it’s always going to be hard coming back from two or three goals down against a good side with a good defensive record.”
He added: “I thought our front three, before they (Ilkeston) scored, looked okay. But sometimes when you concede a goal and confidence is low, you forget what you’ve been told and start doing your own thing. We had a spell where they became individuals instead of a team ethic.
“I have to be loyal to this group to start with, but I will put my own stamp on it. We have to start winning games.
“Supporters must be patient. Rainworth have had some fantastic seasons recently and this is the highest they have ever been. But this season is all about stabilisation.
“This year is about survival and if we are third from bottom in the last week of April I will be happy. Anything higher is a bonus.”
Rainworth had the first sight of goal on five minutes when Nathan Adams controlled a clearance 20 yards from goal and sent a dipping shot just over the angle.
But Ilkeston finally began to exert some pressure and the Wrens had to defend a free-kick, a dangerous far post ball in from Liam Green and then saw Adam Colton just lose control at the vital moment after bursting into the box via a one-two with Ricketts.
There was more worry for the home side when Tommy Hannigan tried to head away as McCormack came to collect, causing a scramble.
However, Danny Bacon almost sneaked Rainworth the lead with an ambitious 35-yard effort that threatened to dip under the bar until Ben Gathercole reached up to turn it over.
Matt Richards then tested McCormack with a curling 25 yard free-kick which the home keeper blocked high to his left.
The visitors continued to look the more dangerous and Rainworth had a double let off on 23 minutes as, from a right wing corner, Ricketts thundered a header against the bar and then Joseph McGuire saw his headed follow-up blocked on the line.
But the Robins only had to wait another minute to take the lead. James Cullingworth sent a free-kick into the box where keeper McCormack came for the ball but failed to collect and the loose ball inadvertently cannoned off Hanson into his own net.
Ilkeston doubled that lead on the half-hour mark as hot shot Ricketts showed his aerial prowess, rising to plant a superb header in off the left post at the back stick from an inch-perfect cross by the excellent James Cullingworth from the right.
Hanson floated in a tempting far post cross for Rainworth on 36 minutes which no one was able to get a finishing touch to, then Lynam was well over on the turn as the Wrens battled for a way back into the contest.
However, it was the Robins who were singing loudly again a minute from the break – and this time it was Ricketts who was the provider.
His lofted forward ball was controlled on the run by the lively Daryll Thomas who forced McCormack into a good block with his low finish. But the ball rolled back to Thomas who steadied himself to execute a perfectly controlled follow-up that flashed past the helpless McCormack.
That left Rainworth facing a daunting task in the second half.
Within six minutes of the restart it took a superb one-handed save to his left by McCormack to prevent Richards making it four with a low shot, Hannigan there to hook the loose ball clear.
Ricketts was booked for persistent fouling on 63 minutes but was given an ovation from the large away contingent as he left the field to be replaced by White for the last 12 minutes.
Ilkeston should have made it 4-0 on a swift counter-attack down the right. White drilled in a superb low ball inviting a first time finish from the incoming Thomas which he smashed high over the bar from eight yards.
Instead it was the home side who finally opened their account. Bacon’s attempted finish from the left of the box was mis-hit. But the ball screwed across goal where a grateful Camm was free to head home from close in.
However, three minutes later the Robins quickly restored their three-goal cushion.
McCormack came for a low ball in from the right by Tyrell Waite but failed to collect as, amid a scramble, Thomas finally rammed the loose ball home from close range.
Home fans had been unhappy with some of the decisions that went against their side and Rainworth’s luck continued to be out as Ilkeston defender Ryan Wilson appeared to handle almost on the line in the final minute and nothing was given.
Now the Wrens must lick their wounds and regroup to show new boss Gee they deserve to be in his survival plans.
RAINWORTH MW: McCormack, Fearon (Carter 89), Hanson, Hannigan, Kennedy, Timons, Bacon, Camm, Adams, Lynam (Mitchell 72), Clarke (Spargo 63). Subs not used: Cooksey, Barker.
ILKESTON: Gathercole, Cullingworth, Wilson, Colton, Hill, McGuire, Wilcox, Green, Ricketts (White 78), Thomas, Richards (Robinson). Subs not used: Partridge, Smith, Butcher.
REFEREE: Mark Hutchinson of Bingham.