Wrens warned about early wind-down

Sam Saunders.
Sam Saunders.

Rainworth MW player-manager Scott Rickards has warned his players not to even think about winding down to the end of their Evo-Stik League Division One South season.

The Wrens figured in a 0-0 bore draw against Loughborough Dynamo on Saturday, which was in total contrast to their 4-0 Notts Senior Cup semi-final victory at Retford United the previous Tuesday.

The Kirklington Road club have targeted the Senior Cup as the only possibility of a trophy this season as far as the first team is concerned, although their young reserve side are hot favourites to finish champions of their division.

Rickards himself was forced to watch the second half from the dugout after tweaking a hamstring right on half time in the Loughborough game, and neither he nor assistant boss Matty Clarke were best pleased by what they witnessed.

A furious Rickards fumed: “This was end of season stuff in February, and unless there is a big change in attitude we could be having this conversation week in week out for the remaining games - it’s not acceptable.

“We need to re-instil an atmosphere in which we go out and try to win matches, however much or however little is at stake, because we need to finish as high up the league as possible, besides which if we go into the remaining league games with thoughts of winding down the season we will find it hard to lift ourselves again for the Senior Cup final.

“Matt has pulled no punches in the dressing room - he has made it quite clear to the players that too many of them are coasting, and we are not a club that can afford to pay players to do that.

“I could go out tomorrow and recruit a team of youngsters who would be capable of keeping us in mid-table, but we want more than that. We need to re-ignite our league season and try to win games to push us back up the league to where we were before Christmas.”

At least Rainworth managed finally to achieve the 40-point target widely regarded as the relegation safety net, but the demise of Eastwood Town this week will almost certainly see four of those points expunged from the records, so they have it all to do again.

Rickards continued: “We’ve got some games within the next four or five which should be winnable but we’ve also got some tough ones to come, including Saturday at home to Scarborough.

“Any manager likes to put one over on a former club, and Rudy Funk (Scarborough’s manager) enjoyed a lot of success here.

“We keep emphasising that this is a division where anyone is capable of beating anyone, and Scarborough are the only team to have given us a real hiding this season, so we will have something to prove against them.

“That night everything seemed to conspire against us - a nightmare journey, a late arrival, a slow start, individual errors, and, it must be said, excellent opposition.

“What happens on Saturday will be down to our attitude, and I need to have 11 players out there with the same commitment as Sam Saunders, who was only 70 per cent fit himself when he replaced me, but still set an example which needs to be followed.”