EVO-STIK NPL Division One South strugglers Rainworth MW are hoping that history will repeat itself more positively when they take on Mark Shaw’s Sheffield at Kirklington Road on Saturday.
The Wrens’ season so far has effectively been an action replay of the last campaign when they began well but then hit a slump in form.
Last season a 16-match winless run ended with a tremendous 4-1 victory at Sheffield, so although Saturday’s match is at home Rainworth are looking for a repeat as they bid to turn history in their favour and end their current winless run of seven.
But it promises to be a much more difficult task, for Sheffield went top of the division on Tuesday night after beating Brigg Town 1-0, while Rainworth own slide down from early pole position continued in a 2-1 defeat at Goole.
The Vikings went into that game in next to bottom place, but the three points lifted them above the Wrens who are now outside the relegation zone only on goal difference.
Reflecting on the performance in a howling gale at Goole, joint manager Lee Wilkinson was in a quietly angry mood as he slammed his players and warned of big changes for the Sheffield game.
He said: “It’s always difficult when you travel this far and don’t perform – it becomes a long journey home.
“We lost the fight – Goole battled harder up front, in midfield and in defence, and played the conditions better than we did. And if you don’t battle you don’t earn the right to play football.
“As far as I’m concerned that’s it, I won’t tolerate that any more and there will be significant changes for Saturday.
“Poor defending cost us two goals in a minute when we had the elements in our favour. We didn’t pick players up or get tight enough, and at this level if you give players a couple of extra yards you get punished.”
Rainworth certainly lost the midfield, and were not helped by the influential Ricky Hanson being away in honeymoon, nor by the fact that they are still struggling to get the experienced Danny Mayman fit.
Wilkinson continued: “We gave Danny a run out in the League Cup against Stamford and although he played well and showed his quality he was clearly still not quite right.
“Additionally Cameron Fearon was suspended, and Craig Mitchell was unavailable because of work.
On the positive side Joe McCormack did well in goal when Gavin Saxby got injured, and Rob Paling had a decent 90 minutes for the first time after pulling up in the warm up for the opening match of the season.
“Also Jamie Goodacre scored a fabulous goal from about 40 yards, but we had told the players to shoot on sight in the wind, and we just didn’t have enough shots on goal when the conditions were in our favour.”
Looking forward to the Sheffield game, their manager Mark Shaw, who spent a short time as a player at Rainworth a few years ago, seems to hold something of an Indian sign over the Wrens, twice beating them in the Vase while managing Retford United.
Wilkinson said: “They are doing well, they have a good mixture of experience and youthful pace, and their strikers are scoring goals so it will be an interesting game.
“I hope to have three new players available in time for Saturday – that’s if they will still come now that we have lost again!
“Last weekend I must have spoken to 10 players, but there are half a dozen clubs all in for the same players and we are in competition for them with clubs who can offer more money than we can, so it’s not easy.”