RAINWORTH MW manager Kevin Gee this week hailed the part played be recently-appointed first team coach Ian ‘Chalkie’ Whyte in the Wrens’ surge up the Evo-Stik NPL Division One South table.
Rainworth hit fourth place as a result of Tuesday night’s 2-1 win at resurgent Belper Town which extended their unbeaten run to seven, including four victories and three draws.
And Gee was quick to acknowledge Whyte’s contribution to the Wrens’ new-found success, saying: “Our relationship is going from strength to strength, and the biggest compliment I can pay him is that it feels like I’ve been working with him for years. I believe in surrounding myself with the right people, and Ian’s input has been fantastic.
“He brings a terrific fine detail to the group and the players are responding to that tuition. Yes, we are probably riding by the skin of our pants a little at the minute, and Lady Luck currently seems to be on our side in key moments in games, but we’ll take that and continue to try and improve on the bits that we are not doing so well at the minute.
“We have a really strong team sprit at the club right now that will take some breaking down, coupled with a terrific work ethic which is putting us in good positions to try and win games - and thankfully the chance to conversion ratio by our attacking options is extremely high.”
To some extent Tuesday’s victory came out of adversity, for Gee was left with a threadbare squad through injury, suspension and, in two cases, enforced personal issues.
But with the inclusion of on-loan Sam Craven from Boston United in midfield he was able to field a starting 11 made up of first team squad players, although three young reserves were included on the bench – but even that was turned into a positive by the Wrens boss.
He insisted: “It gave me the chance to bed in three of our talented youngsters from our development reserve team, and although other than Jordan Claxton late in the game they didn’t get on, the fact that they are now training with the first team can only bode well for the long term development of the club and its future.
“But there is a long way to go still this season, and we are still learning as a group, so we’ll just see where this journey takes us and keep trying to improve.
“Sam has been sent to us from Boston because he needs games under his belt, and we gave him the opportunity, so we’ll see where that takes us. We are a bit bogged down by injuries and other situations, so at times like these I have to use my contacts to ask for favours and get people in.”
On the match itself, Gee commented: “It was a pleasing performance after a sloppy start in which we conceded an early goal. But we passed the ball around and created numerous chances.
“To be fair, the sending off of Belper’s Karl Colley was perhaps the turning point, we scored soon after that, and from then on I could only see one winner.
“And for Jordan Turner to step up against the club he has just joined us from and take the penalty which won the match took a lot of courage.”
Rainworth have no game this weekend because scheduled visitors Stamford have an FA Trophy commitment. The game has been switched to Tuesday evening (7.45pm) at Kirklington Road, but will fall if Stamford need a replay against Premier Division Buxton.
Stamford currently sit one place above Rainworth, in third, but with five more points from two less games.
Should Tuesday’s game against Stamford go ahead, Rainworth will be hoping for a significant increase in the attendance.
Despite their current good form, high league placing, more attractive football, prices held down, and Saturday games tending not to clash with neighbours Mansfield Town as they did last season, attendance figures are significantly down on the last two campaigns when the Wrens were battling against relegation.
It is a trend which is puzzling club officials at a time when all the factors listed above ought to be bumping up crowd figures.
Manager Kevin Gee said: “Of course it is disappointing that the people of the village don’t seem to want to get behind us currently. At the end of the day you can try all the gimmicks you like, but the only thing that will boost the crowds in the longer term is the fare on offer.
“We are doing well, playing attractive football, and winning games in a league of high standard. All we can do is to continue to spread the word and hope that people ultimately get the message about the good things that are happening in a club within their community.”