New Rainworth MW player-manager Scott Rickards admitted this week that he was a little disappointed by the timing of Saturday’s FA Trophy tie against competition debutants St Ives Town, given the Wrens’ current league form.
But he also insisted that he will not be treating the national tournament as a second priority competition.
Speaking after Tuesday’s training session, Rickards enthused over the recent form in Division One South of the Evo-Stik NPL, in which the club have so far won all three matches under his charge, the only disappointment being the exit from the Doodson Sport Cup at Loughborough.
Looking at his first weeks in the post, having been appointed following a short but successful caretakership, Rickards admitted they had been an eye-opener, saying: “Having come in as a player you don’t realise how much is involved on the management side until you take it on. Instead of being one of the lads you have to look at things from a different perspective, but it’s good and I’m enjoying it.
“It helps that we are on a bit of a roll in the league at the moment. We have strung a few good results together, and maybe if those results had been different I would not be saying what I am saying, but we’ve got ourselves into a fantastic position after making a couple of subtle changes which have been the key to our winning run so far.”
The Saints will go marching into Kirklington Road on Saturday for their first ever FA Trophy game, having won promotion from the United Counties League to the Calor Southern League Central Division. And they have made a quite impressive start at their new level, sitting in ninth place with four wins and two draws from their opening eight games up to Saturday.
The Cambridgeshire club’s league record indicates that they neither score nor concede many goals - eight for and eight against from eight games is their current form, but they bucked that trend on Saturday at Conference South outfit Concord Rangers when they lost by the odd goal of seven in an FA Cup thriller.
Looking forward to the Trophy tie, Rickards added: “We have to be realistic, it may not be a competition we can win, but it’s a fantastic opportunity to earn the club some money to help us go on and make a few more of the changes we want to make.
“If I’m honest though at this stage I would rather be playing for points because we have got ourselves a bit of momentum in the league, but it gives us a little longer to prepare for Tuesday’s match at Mickleover.
“It will be a tough game, but we will enjoy the occasion and seek to make some progress in the competition. The staff and I try to do our research on every team that we play, and find out as much as we can about them from various contacts or, if we can, by going to watch them, because at this level you can’t under-estimate anybody, but we can’t always get to watch prospective opponents ourselves if our duties here prevent it.
“However, it’s more about what we do ourselves rather than worrying too much about the opposition, but we know enough about them.”
Asked whether he was likely to figure in the match as a player himself, Rickards did not rule it out. But he said: “We’ve told all the boys that while they keep winning they will play, and I can’t really not apply that to myself or treat myself any different to any other player.
“Of course I’m keen to get back into the team, but the lads have been winning so unless a vacancy arises in the squad for a player in my position then I will have to bide my time just like anyone else.”
If Saturday’s Trophy tie ends in a draw the replay will be in Cambridgeshire on Tuesday, taking precedence over the Mickleover game which will also be postponed if Mickleover require a replay.