Rainworth MW will go into Saturday’s important date at Cleethorpes Town in good heart after going fourth in the Toolstation NCEL Premier Division on Tuesday.
The Wrens overcame a very good and hard-working Maltby Main side 3-1 for their fifth successive home win, during which they have scored 26 goals and conceded four.
And now they will be looking to take that sort of form on their travels after a couple of indifferent results away from home, in Saturday’s showdown between the top two sides in the current six-match form table.
Both the Wrens and the Owls have 13 points and a goal difference of plus 14 from their last six games, but Rainworth head the table by virtue of having scored - although also conceded - six goals more than their hosts.
Central to that has been the form of striker Liam Morris, whose second goal of his brace against Maltby brought his tally for the season to 20 from 15 league starts.
That brace followed up his four in last Saturday’s 6-0 home thrashing of Nostell MW to end a three match dry run which followed two successive hat-tricks.
Cleethorpes, too, have their prolific marksmen in Marc Cooper with 19 and Brody Robertson with 16 in all competitions to date.
The Owls made a poor start to the season, and lost 6-3 at Rainworth on September 1 in a remarkable game which could easily have ended 7-7 - but they have stormed up the table since then and, despite that result, Wrens boss Julian Watts described them as ‘arguably the best side we have played this season’.
Watts is in no doubt about the size of the task facing his team this weekend, and was relieved that they will be travelling to the seaside on the back of turning an indifferent first half show against Maltby to three more points.
“I hope that will prove to be a monkey off our backs,” he said.
“We’ve been playing really well and have deserved the goals and the wins we have gained as a result, so it’s nice when you’re not at your best and someone makes it hard for you that you still come out of it with the win.
“Maltby dominated the first half and I was relieved and delighted that we got to half-time with the score still 0-0.
“Despite that, I thought that over the 90 minutes we deserved it. Half-time gave us the chance to put things right.
“They had put us under pressure with some fast and furious play, they closed us down with pace and ferocity, but I thought they would run out of steam, so I told the lads at half-time that we had to do things a bit quicker and smarter.
“We’d been trying to flick balls around corners, the touches were not coming off, and we needed someone to put their foot on the ball, take two touches and bring someone else into play, which is the way we have been playing and which is what has brought us our success so far this season.
“I felt we were much better in the second half, we took a leaf out of their book and replicated the pressure they had put us under.
“Their goal, and their other best chance, both came from our own mistakes, and other than that they never really troubled us in the second half.”
Watts was fulsome of his praise of Morris, and emphasised that the prolific striker brings much more than just his goals to the cause.
He continued: “I could talk all day about him. He’s influential, central to all that we do, brings others into play, he has a remarkable turn of speed over 10 yards, and he is one of the cleverest footballers I’ve ever managed.
“For this Saturday, Cleethorpes will certainly be up for it after that result here, plus we have now gone back above them in the league.
“They are probably the best side we have played this season, they are relentless in their pressure and their attacking football which is difficult to cope with, so it will be a tough test for us.
“But we are going there on the back of some good form of our own, so we’ll take that with us with every confidence that we can go and get another result.”
Following the Cleethorpes game the Wrens begin their Notts FA Senior Cup campaign next Tuesday with a home third round tie against Nottinghamshire Senior League outfit Beeston, who currently languish in the lower reaches of a league two divisions below.
It’s a potential banana skin in a competition the Wrens are desperate to win, and Beeston have already seen off NCEL side Teversal, but Watts may well use the fixture to give some of his squad players more game time.