EXPERIENCED defender Dan White’s belated debut for Rainworth MW at last showed why manager Kevin Gee was so keen to secure his services from Belper Town in November.
With a number of players unavailable, White was pressed into service for the Wrens’ New Year’s Day home Evo-Stik NPL Division One South local derby against Carlton Town, and was named man of the match after a dominant personal display helped keep a rare clean sheet as Rainworth won 2-0.
The result could hardly have come at a better time for Rainworth, who had ended 2012 with a 3-2 defeat at Brigg after having lead 2-1 into the 90th minute.
Gee commented afterwards that the win over Carlton was the ideal reaction to having snatched defeat from the jaws of victory at Brigg.
And he was quick to give due credit not only to White’s debut performance, but also to his two strikers.
Said Gee: “It was a great way to start the new year. The win put the loss at Brigg into some perspective, and there isn’t a manager in the division who would not have been delighted to score two and keep a clean sheet against a good side like Carlton.”
On White, Gee insisted: “Of course he’s a good player – we only bring good players to the club. He wasn’t fit when we signed him from Belper, but he has worked hard over several weeks and, with a few players out for the Carlton game, I made the decision to bring him in although he still felt he was not quite ready.
“He’s big, strong and solid, but alongside that he also has great organisational skills and slotted in alongside Mark Camm in the heart of defence superbly.
“As a team we controlled the match and looked solid as a group, while the front two – Ian Holmes and Conor Higginson – are showing that they are as good a strike force as any in the division, not only because they are scoring goals, but also through the work they are getting through for the team.”
On Saturday Rainworth are at home again in the second of a run of five successive home games, when they will be looking to complete a league double over in-form Belper Town.
The Wrens won 2-1 at Belper in a fiesty encounter on 6th November, before the Nailers ran into their current wining sequence.
Gee continued: “I said in advance of that game, when they were struggling a little, that they were the best side I had seen to date. The momentum they have gathered has borne out that opinion, and I will be very surprised if they do not figure in this season’s play-offs. And if they do, who knows what will happen because play-offs are always a bit of a lottery.
“But we are showing week in, week out, that we can compete with the best teams in this division. There is always one club who will prove a surprise package by putting a run together in the second half of the season, and there is no reason this year why that should not be Rainworth. Our run of home games in January has the potential to provide the ideal launch-pad for a run of results, and it’s nice to be able to look at things in that light rather than in previous seasons looking over our shoulders at a relegation scrap.
“As I have said before, this season is, for me, more about profiling the club. A lot of players now know who we are and see us as an option for next season.
“We are still learning, but we are making far fewer mistakes than we were when I first joined, and I have a squad of players around me who I can trust 100 per cent. I can’t ask for more than that at this stage in the club’s development.”
Gee hopes to have three players who missed the Carlton game back in contention to face Belper – Lee Cooksey (holiday), Callum Lloyd (suspension) and Danny Bacon (family bereavement) could all be added to the squad that did duty on New Year’s Day.
Following the Belper game, on Tuesday Rainworth are at home in the third round of the Doodson Sport League Cup, when they entertain Premier Division Buxton, and then there are further home games to come against Loughborough Dynamo and Northwich Victoria before their next away trip at the end of January.