Rainworth MW manager Scott Rickards is looking to his side’s Easter programme to provide a morale booster ahead of the Notts Senior Cup final.
The Wrens travel to Chasetown, one of Rickards’ former clubs, for an Evo-Stik League Division One South fixture on Saturday, and then entertain local rivals Carlton Town on Easter Monday, in a rehearsal for the cup final between the two sides which takes place at Hucknall Town eight days later.
Rainworth go into the holiday programme in need of a boost, after a Saturday in which it all went wrong for them in a 4-1 home defeat by Belper Town, when they began with a depleted side, and then saw Rickards sent off before half time and leading scorer Ashley Longstaff suffering a hamstring pull three minutes into the restart, just when he was through on goal and about to pull the trigger with the scores still level.
The resilient young Wrens held out until the 66th minute, before the Nailers’ late show inflicted a heavier defeat than they deserved for their gutsy display.
Rickards took full responsibility for the defeat, insisting that had Rainworth kept 11 men on the field they might well have got a result from the match. He admitted: “There had been a bit of a build-up to the incident, I moved my leg, not forcefully, but their lad has made a bit of a meal of it in front of his own dugout, they have responded, and the referee has bought it.
“But I have to take the responsibility for leaving the team in that situation to cope with a physical, direct side.
“We were already short-staffed before the match with my assistant, Matt Clarke, also away, and everything just went against us - it was just one of those days.
“Ash has been carrying an injury since before Christmas and it caught up with him just at the wrong moment, if ever there is a right one. Had he not pulled up I would have backed him to score in that situation, but it’s just one more thing that has gone against us, which is the story of our season.
“But full credit to our lads who held out for over an hour against a team already certain to be in the play-offs. They tried to remain organised and to salvage something out of a bad day, but it wasn’t to be. Moments change matches, and a bit of naivete has cost us when we tried to play the ball out from the back, it’s been stolen, and finished up in the back of the net.”
Longstaff’s injury may well have brought his season to a premature end, and Rickards himself will not now be available for the final, serving the second of a three match ban for his dismissal.
He will also be frustrated to miss the return to his former club, Sutton Coldfield Town, when the Wrens wrap up their league season next weekend.
Despite that, he added: “We’re just trying to keep everyone fit and get everyone back for the final, to give us our best possible chance of winning it. Monday will give us a good chance to see what Carlton have to offer, although of course that works two ways, and to test ourselves. As for my own situation, I can’t change what’s happened, I will just have to get on and deal with it.”
Rainworth are reminding U18s that they can benefit from free admission to the Wrens’ final home games of the season on Easter Monday against Carlton Town.
However, anyone aged under 13 who wishes to take advantage of the offer must be accompanied by a paying or ticket-holding adult.
Rainworth have received confirmation from the Football Association that they have achieved Charter Standard club status.
They are now proud recipients of their certificate and plaque, and join the growing number of Evo-Stik League clubs to have achieved this award.
Rainworth Reserves are just four points away from winning the Central Midlands Reserve Supreme Division title with three games left to play.
They have no game over the Easter weekend, but if Dronfield Town’s result goes in the Wrens’ favour they can win the title next weekend when they are at home to Long Eaton United.