Rainworth MW poised for first home league encounter

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Boss Julian Watts is looking for Rainworth Miners’ Welfare to show their fans what they are capable of, when they finally get their home NCEL programme underway on Saturday.

The Wrens’ supporters were given a shock in last Tuesday’s FA Cup replay by Division One side Bottesford Town who progressed 5-1, but Watts is hoping that they can carry their encouraging league form into the game when Athersley Rec visit for a first-ever meeting between the two sides.

Rainworth’s first three games were all away, but after an opening day 3-2 defeat at Garforth Town they have come away from both Albion Sports and Staveley MW with three-point hauls.

Watts says that those two wins have left him satisfied ahead of their maiden home clash.

He said: “I’m looking forward to the chance to put a performance on after the disappointment of the FA Cup.

“That wasn’t our best start in front of our own supporters, but there were unavoidable reasons behind that which have now been rectified.

“I was a bit surprised that we were handed so many away league games before we got the chance to play at home, but I’m fairly happy with a six-point return from those three matches, and my biggest disappointment was in not coming back from Garforth with something to show.

“I felt we were the better side overall on the day, and it was a very good, very late goal which took the points off us, although we could have done a little bit more in the second half.

“At Albion Sports not only put on a good footballing display but also dug in and worked hard for the win which we thoroughly deserved.

“At Staveley we could have been two or three up inside the first 15 minutes, but the pleasing things were that we finished strongly with two goals, and we also kept the clean sheet which I was looking for after conceding too many up to then.”

Those two late goals came from a penalty by Matt Sykes who was making his debut after joining from Shirebrook, and Liam Morris, who came on as substitute after missing the previous few games while on holiday.

Also making his debut, in the absence of regular keeper Nathan Burrows, was 17-year-old goalkeeper Fraser Hampson, who was temporarily released by Mansfield Town to enable him to turn out for the Wrens, for which the club have expressed their gratitude.

Watts said: “I had a choice before the game of 48-year-old Alan Widdowson or 17-year-old Fraser, but Fraser came highly recommended, and although he didn’t have a great deal to do in terms of shots to stop, he did what he had to do very well.

“I remember him coming through a crowd of players for an early corner and taking the ball cleanly and confidently, which will have settled him down as it did me.

“He grew throughout the game, never put a foot wrong, and did everything asked of him.”

Watts has not yet finished building his squad and Saturday’s game against Athersley is likely to see a couple more new faces who were understood to be signing this week, plus one pleasing and much-needed appointment of a new physio; John Newell, who has joined from Dunkirk.

When pressed on the threat that Athersley will pose, Watts added: “I came up against them during my time with Hallam.

“They are always a very energetic side who like to get in your face and not allow you to settle.

“They’ve had a mixed start to the season, but it’s still far too early to judge teams on the basis of their results so far.

“We will prepare ourselves as best we can, go out, put in a performance for our fans, and hopefully take the three points.”