Rainworth MW’s fans may have gone home on a high after witnessing a feast of entertainment in Tuesday night’s dramatic 6-3 win over Cleethorpes Town.
But the Toolstation NCEL Premier Division club’s manager Julian Watts was guarded in his praise as the Wrens also conceded three in what was a superb but flattering victory over a very good Cleethorpes side.
It was the second home win in four days following Saturday’s 3-1 success against Athersley Recreation, and lifted the Wrens into third place, but the contrast could not have been more marked.
For while on Saturday Rainworth had enough chances to have had the game well wrapped up by the interval but led only 2-0, Tuesday night’s game saw them come under the cosh for long periods, and yet they seemed to score almost every time they went up the pitch.
Watts reflected after the match: “Yes, it was first class entertainment for the spectators, with lots of goals. We conceded three but still managed to score more than they did, against a very good side indeed who, despite their current position, will most probably be challenging at the top end when it matters at the end of the season.
“To be fair the final scoreline flattered us a bit, but I’m delighted to have come away with all three points.
“I spoke to the lads after Saturday when we had dominated possession but poor decision making in the final third cost us the winning margin we deserved. I emphasised that we had not been clinical enough, and told them that if we were not clinical against better sides like Cleethorpes and don’t take the opportunities that come your way you will make life difficult for yourselves.
“Tonight we did just that, we took nearly every opportunity that came our way with some great finishes, and I can’t ask for more than that from the front end.
“But I was disappointed with the way that the goals were conceded which kept them in the game after we had gone 3-0 up, so that it was never really over until the last whistle. The up side was that after that, each time they scored we answered it, and Lewis Bingham had two great second half strikes - and that was the difference. When we did have our chances we were absolutely ruthless in front of goal, which we needed to be against a probable top four side in the division who may be looking for promotion.”
Watts was forced to go into the game without three of the side that had beaten Athersley, with two-goal Matthew Sykes, Liam Theakstone and Gareth Campion all unavailable, but with Lewis Chambers returning from injury, along with Jobe Shaw and Bingham returning and performing well - in Chambers’ case until a recurrence of his ankle injury just before half time - Watts admitted that his mind had been eased.
“The way they performed showed me that our squad is not as shallow as I feared,” he confessed. “Sometimes I look at the squad we have and wonder whether we have enough depth, but after tonight I can say that yes, we have.
“I had to ask a couple of players to play out of position, but the thing that struck me was that, especially in the second half, our work rate, organisation and shape could not be faulted, and now we need to carry that into Saturday’s FA Vase tie at Quorn.”
That tie is the Wrens’ first in five years in a competition in which they have such a proud history, having been upgraded into the FA Trophy during five years in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League.
Watts continued: “It’s a great competition, it means a lot to Rainworth, and we are at the top step of clubs who take part, so a good run is a realistic ambition.
“Quorn have a nice set-up and a lovely pitch which will suit us, but we may still have availability problems, so we’ll see how the squad shapes betwen now and Saturday.
“There are some of my old pals from my days at Leicester City coming to watch, so I hope we can put on a good show for them,” ended the Wrens’ boss.