Rainworth MW manager Scott Rickards lauded Saturday’s great Evo-Stik NPL Division One South victory at league leaders Leek Town - and then warned against complacency in the aftermath.
A sturdy defensive display in the final 20 minutes of the match at Harrison Park, followed by an 89th minute winner on the counter-attack, inflicted a first home defeat of the season on the Blues, who had previously lost only one league match and stood six points clear at the top of the division.
The result maintained the Wrens’ ‘Indian sign’ over the Staffordshire Moorlands club who have still only beaten them once in seven meetings, five of which have seen Rainworth come out on top.
While delighted by the victory, though, Rickards is determined to avoid any hint of ‘After the Lord Mayor’s Show’ in the two forthcoming games against clubs in the lower reaches of the division, exactly the kind of games in which the Wrens have shown their vulnerability.
This weekend Market Drayton will visit Kirklington Road hoping to avoid conceding a league double after the Wrens won 4-1 at Greenfields in Rickards’ first match in charge in mid-September.
Since then Drayton have appointed a new manager in Greg Clowes, and back to back wins have lifted them clear of the drop zone, so they will arrive at the ‘Wrens’ Nest’ as one of the division’s in-form sides.
And Rickards knows that neither their 4-1 win in Shropshire nor Saturday’s victory over the league leaders will count for anything once the first whistle sounds.
Reflecting on the victory at Harrison Park, Rickards enthused: “The win at Leek was a great result for us so I am determined that it won’t be countered on Saturday.
“We all know that this is a division where anyone can beat anyone, so we start with another blank piece of paper and take nothing for granted..
“We had done our research on Leek, knew what they were about, and created our game plan to counter their obvious strengths,. We were aware that Leek are a team that likes to pass the ball around quickly, and we knew also that the current state of their pitch wasn’t going to allow them to do that to their best effect. So we played at a tempo where we were in their face the whole time, not giving them time on the ball to make decisions, and basically to harry them into errors. And for large parts of the game it’s fair to say that anyone not knowing would not have guessed which was the team six points clear at the top.
“We were well aware of their potential sources of danger, including prolific scorer Jordan Johnson, so we set up our game to counter them, it paid off, and we got the bonus of a very late winner - and, pleasingly, no individual errors either.
“But that game has gone and we focus on Market Drayton - and we think back to earlier home games this season when we were expected to comfortably beat teams at the bottom of the league - Goole and Brigg Town come straight to mind, when we got found out.
“So we will go into the Market Drayton game in the same professional way that we did at Leek, and ensure that we have enough in our changing room to beat anyone who comes in, no matter who they are or where they are in the league.”
Following the Market Drayton game the Wrens are at home again the following week to another of the division’s battlers against relegation, Kidsgrove Athletic, so Rainworth look to have a great chance of making it three wins in a row for the second time this season - just as long as Rickards’ cautionary words are heeded.