RAINWORTH will go into Saturday’s home game against Brigg Town in much better heart and looking to complete a league double after finally ending their seven-match winless run in the Evo-Stik NPL Division One South on Tuesday night.
But it was a nervy occasion for the Wrens fans against bottom club Quorn who were looking the more likely to snatch a win at the end with the supporters praying for the final whistle … until they were awarded a 96th-minute penalty which Curtis Shaw kept his cool to put away with aplomb and seal the points.
It was a result which left Quorn needing four wins from their last 10 games to catch them, even if the Wrens don’t take another point all season, and despite the tenseness of the occasion Wrens boss Kevin Gee could only have words of praise for his squad.
He said: “It may not have been pretty to watch—in our position if your priority is entertainment you need to go to the theatre. For us it’s about picking up vital points, and they didn’t come any more vital than that game.
“People may say we didn’t play very well, but on the contrary I thought our defence was magnificent once again. What needs to be understand is that we have made ourselves a very difficult side to beat—in fact there is no team in any position in this division which is easy to beat if they remain organised and disciplined.
“We all know we aren’t scoring enough goals, but as I said last Saturday after the Loughborough match, we can compete with anyone in this division, and we showed it against Quorn. We had played well and competed with Grantham, who are top, and Loughborough, who are pushing for the Play-offs, and had nothing to show for it. For Quorn nothing less than a win was good enough, so they attacked us, but could not break down our defence.
“Sometimes people don’t appreciate good defending, but another clean sheet showed why our goals against record is among the best in the league.
“So what ever you thought of the performance, I believe it was a fantastic result for the club, because in our position points on the board are what really matter.
“We’re all in it together, whether defender, midfield or forward. Whether we win, lose or draw we do it together, and for us no individual is better than any other.
“It took some bottle for Curtis Shaw to take a last ditch penalty when it was 0-0, but there is no better time to score than the 96th minute in those circumstances.
“The result may have eased some of the pressure off us for today’s game, and the result put us to within one result of a few teams just above us in the table. But it does not take the pressure away completely, and anyone who thinks otherwise is deluding himself. I’m still under pressure to ensure we stay in this division, and although it was a massive result on Tuesday that job is far from done yet.
“Pressure comes in the form of weight of expectation on the part of everyone, that transfers and manifests itself among the players, but on Tuesday they responded to it, delivered, and showed once again that it will take a very good side to beat us.”
Meanwhile Brigg have seen something of an upturn in their form in the last couple of weeks, so will arrive at Kirklington Road on something of a high.
Despite their dearth of goals the Wrens did get four at The Hawthorns back in November, but it was a far from one-sided contest with Rainworth’s then goalkeeper Joe McCormack, now with Leek, named man of the match after playing the entire second half effectively one-handed following an injury.
Since then both sides have made several personnel changes, so little can be read into that result ahead of Saturday’s encounter.
And with former Grimsby Town striker Darren Mansaram lining up for the Zebras the Wrens defenders are again likely to have their hands full.
The question remains, though, about their ability to score goals, with their attacking options having suffered multiple setbacks this week.
Stephen Akers was injured at Loughborough on Saturday, while Rob Gill, who came on as substitute in that match for his bleated Wrens debut after injury in the warm-up for what should have been his first start at Shepshed back on 21st January, suffered a recurrence just before half time on Tuesday night.
And, to rub salt into the wound, it was discovered ahead of the match at Loughborough, that Ant Lynam’s three-match suspension had not been completed after all.
Lynam was sent off while playing for Ashover in the Midland Regional Alliance in January, and cannot play until he has missed three Ashover matches. But two of those were postponed so he did not serve his first leg of his suspension until last Saturday – and with Ashover in a league where floodlights are not the norm, he has to sit out two more Saturdays before he can pull on a Wrens shirt again.