Manager Craig Denton says he regards Rainworth MW’s two weeks without a match as a mixed blessing.
Ideally Denton would have liked a match last Saturday to help maintain the momentum which has carried the Wrens to the top of the Toolstation UK Northern Counties East League Premier Division’s form table.
But there has been no kicking of heels during the period of competitive inactivity as they prepare for this Saturday’s big local derby at Rainworth’s former manager Rudy Funk’s promotion-chasing AFC Mansfield.
During his tenure at Kirklington Road Funk led the Wrens to three promotions in five seasons, which catapulted them up the pyramid from the Step 7 Central Midlands League to Step 4 football in the Evo-Stik League, before financial constraints forced them to take a step down following five years at that level.
Speaking prior to Tuesday night’s training session, Denton said: “It seems like an age since we last played a match. We’ve been coming in for training but it’s not the same as when you’ve got games coming in, especially given our recent good form.
“But it’s nice to go and watch a few games, look at a few players, and to do our homework on AFC Mansfield.
“And it’s also allowed some time for players who have picked up knocks to see the physio, rehabilitate themselves and get back to full fitness.
“Tonight’s training will be rather more intensive as we tweak our shape and how we set up as we turn the focus towards Saturday.
“I and the rest of the management team will be looking at AFC at Worksop on Wednesday night – I always get a warm welcome back there where I was head coach and then assistant manager, and it’s a bonus that it gives us another chance to look at AFC Mansfield.
“We know AFC have been in good form all season even though they bowed out of the FA Vase last week. We knew at the start of the season that they were going to be up there. Rudy is a highly regarded manager, his assistant Mark Ward also has a wealth of non-league experience, and they have some very good players.
“But for us it’s about what we can bring to the table as we look to continue or strong performances of late, taking each game at a time and trying to take something from games, which we have been doing.”
Meanwhile, the Wrens have been drawn away to old Evo-Stik League Division One South rivals Carlton Town in the third round of the Notts Senior Cup, to be played on Wednesday, 6th December.
Denton commented: “Officials have told me of the old rivalry between the clubs. They are a level above us so they will have good players who have the capability to hurt us.
“We will go there full of optimism, continue to do what we are good at, and give them a game.
“I know it will be tough, but I believe in our players and what they are doing at the club, so I’m looking forward to the test, but our priority is AFC Mansfield away on Saturday.”