Manager Julian Watts has challenged Rainworth MW to start 2016 with a bang.
The Toolstation NCEL club ended the old year with three successive away league defeats to clubs in the mix at the top of the Premier Division table, the only relief in that time coming in the shape of a Notts Senior Cup third round 4-0 victory over Step 7 outfit Beeston.
Particularly disappointing to the Wrens boss, and their fans, was the 3-0 Boxing Day defeat at local rivals Clipstone, a result which could have been worse but for the heroics of stand-in veteran goalkeeper Alan Widdowson.
So Watts is looking to his side to make a positive if delayed start to the new year with victory over visitors Garforth Town.
The Wrens lost 3-2 at Garforth to a last minute wonder goal, arguably still the best goal scored against them this term, on the opening day of the current campaign, but both sides have seen numerous changes since then.
Watts reflected: “We were unlucky to lose there because on the day I thought we had done enough to come back home with something to show, but you can’t argue against goals of that sort of quality.
“Since then Garforth’s manager has moved on to Ossett Town and taken a number of players with him, so they have faced a rebuild, while we have also brought in several new players to strengthen a squad which we more or less had to throw together at the start of the season.
“I’m not sure what to expect from Garforth but it’s really about what we do or don’t do on the day. The Boxing day game at Clipstone was a huge disappointment, we didn’t look like a team, we didn’t play well and we didn’t work hard, so we got exactly what we deserved. So now we have to pick ourselves up from that.
“Having had no game since then we’ve been training hard, I’ve changed things around a little, and I want to see us get the new year off to a bang and pick up three convincing points.”
Watts was, however, full of praise for Widdowson who came out of retirement for the Clipstone derby. “We have seven or eight keepers signed,” he continued, “but ‘Widdo’ was the only one available on the day. It was far from an ideal situation, he hadn’t played at this level for some years, but he did himself proud with a couple of amazing saves and two or three one on one stops.
“But I’m delighted to be able to say that Sam Leigh has rejoined us from Ossett Town. I don’t blame any player for wanting to try his luck at a higher level, and when Sam left to go to Ossett Chris Gill came in and has done a god job for us, but he also had availability problems on Boxing Day.
“Meanwhile Sam said he was not really enjoying it at Ossett, he wasn’t very enamoured with their style, and he had enjoyed his time with us because he wants to be part of a team that plays good football, so now we have him back for the rest of the season.”
Weather permitting, Rainworth should also find out on Saturday evening who they will entertain in the quarter-final of the Notts Senior Cup. They will face the winners of the Ruddington Village v Sherwood Colliery tie, and the Notts FA have ordered that outstanding match to be played this weekend at Sherwood, after several attempts to get the tie played at Clifton All Whites’ floodlit ground had been frustrated by the weather.
The Wrens currently have no game on Saturday week, so hope to be able to pull in their Senior Cup tie on that date if possible.
On Tuesday evening Rainworth have a long trip to Barton Town, and they will also face another long midweek journey on 16th February, the new date for last Saturday’s postponed game at Thackley - just one week after travelling to the same area to face Yorkshire Amateur in a delayed third round League Cup tie.