Rainworth MW will not be deflected away from their youth policy according to assistant manager Matt Clarke, despite last weekend’s heavy home defeat.
A youthful Wrens side was put to the sword by promotion chasing Leek Town and crashed 5-0 at home in Saturday’s Evo-Stik League Division One South match, but Clarke remained not just philosophical but upbeat as he put things into some sort of perspective.
And he is convinced that, despite some raw edges, the club’s youngsters can bounce back when they make the short trip to Dronfield to face Sheffield FC this weekend.
They will do so, though, without one of their senior players, for fans’ favourite, defender Sam Saunders this week moved on to join his brother Ben in aiding Coalville Town’s push for the Division One South title.
If Clarke was disappointed by anything at all against Leek it was the contribution by the senior players when the chips were down.
He said: “After taking four points from the two previous very good performances we were looking to push on against Leek, but we came up against a very, very good side.
“It will always happen when you put your emphasis on youth that when you face a side of Leek’s obvious quality your inexperience is likely to get found out.
“We had seven players on the pitch aged 20 or under, and Leek’s level of opposition was probably a step too far for them.
“But it is at times like these that we would expect the senior players to show some leadership, and that was what was lacking. We have so many teenagers in the side who show enthusiasm and great ability, and it’s on days like this, when things don’t go right for the younger players, that the more experienced and streetwise ones are on hand to help them through, but on the day they fell short of the expected mark in this respect.”
Looking forward to the remainder of the current season, Clarke said: “We have set ourselves a target of a number of wins, and Saturday at Sheffield will be a pointer as to how realistic that target is.
“Sheffield themselves are not currently in the greatest form, and we need to go there and put the Leek defeat behind us.
“With a young side you can only take each game as it comes, but as long as we can see progression and development we will be happy.
“The lads are not at all downhearted. They are all very receptive, all learning their trade, and all ready to take information and constructive criticism on board.”
Rainworth did suffer a blow against Leek when Regan Edridge limped off with an ankle injury, but Clarke is hopeful that the 17-year-old loanee from Chesterfield will be fit to face Sheffield, alongside returning player-manager Scott Rickards who has now recovered from a hamstring pull.
Of Edridge, Clarke concluded: “Losing Regan made a massive impact. He’s a 17-year-old boy but his performances have led by example, wherever he has been asked to play, whether centre back, right back or centre or right of midfield.
“He has probably been our best player over the last couple of months so to lose him was a big blow.”
Meanwhile, Rainworth Reserves’ hopes of a League and League Cup double were ended on Tuesday night when they lost 3-2 after extra time at home to Matlock Town in the quarter-final of the League Cup.
The young Wrens are currently second in their division, level on points with leaders Dronfield Town, with an inferior goal difference but with a game in hand.