Coach Danny Peacock has cited poor ball retention as a major cause of Rainworth MW’s disappointing recent run of results.
Following Tuesday night’s 4-1 home Evo-Stik League Division One South defeat of a threadbare Wrens squad by Spalding United, and Saturday’s 3-0 loss at Stafford Rangers, Peacock said that much of the good play by the side is being undone by their apparent inability to keep possession, resulting in them putting themselves under too much pressure.
Peacock found himself having to take charge against Spalding with joint managers Ian Robinson and Gary Sucharewycz both unavailable.
Sucharewycz has just started a new day job and has been having to spend some time in London as part of his initiation, which left Robinson in sole charge at Stafford - and Robinson himself went down with food poisoning which caused his absence on Tuesday.
But it wasn’t just the two managers who were unable to make the Spalding game, with midweek work commitments of a number of the players meaning that an already small squad was cut to just 12 players at kick-off time with one more late arrival going on the bench.
It meant that the team more or less picked itself and, as at Stafford on Saturday, they were more than a match for promotion-chasing opposition in the first half, but as players ran out of steam there were only very limited options for change.
Peacock admitted: “It all went wrong for us tonight with first the two gaffers and then a number of players having to pull out, so it was always going to be a backs to the wall situation.
“But despite the result I couldn’t ask for any more of the lads who were there. They worked really hard but in the end we lacked the numbers.
“We saw pretty much the same thing at Stafford on Saturday, and while some may question whether, as a new side, we still lack a bit of match fitness, I’m not sure that is the case because everyone is still working hard off the ball.
“The real problem, as I see it, is our ball retention. We’re not holding it up so when we lose possession it’s coming straight back at us with players caught out of position.
“For 20 to 30 minutes of the second half Spalding did hold the ball and kept possession, we didn’t, and so we ended up chasing the game.
“It’s something we need to put right on the training ground because we have players with the ability to do that, but our training opportunities have been limited by a glut of fixtures.
“We also need to build up the squad - even with everyone there we’re down to 15 or 16, and when you have a situation like tonight it makes it very difficult.
“When Gary, Ian and I arrived at Rainworth we signed several players all at once, and we got to a stage where we didn’t want to bring in too many more after that initial influx, so that the lads we had signed had time to gel.
“But with one or two carrying injuries, more affected by their day jobs, and then the unexpected loss of Danny Williams to AFC Mansfield, it’s left us critically short and we’re having to chop and change according to availability.”
Rainworth will be hoping to restore the early form of the side under the new management tomorrow (Saturday) when they begin their FA Trophy campaign at fellow strugglers Market Drayton Town.
Peacock added: “This is a massive game for us in terms of finance with the prize money on offer and also a lucrative home tie against King’s Lynn for the winners.
“The lads are hurting after tonight so they will be up for it, we’ve already beaten Drayton here in the league so it’s winnable, although they will no doubt feel the same way, and it’s like a cup final for us with the prospective boost to our finances.
“We hope to be able to strengthen the squad with a couple of new players before then, and we will have most of those players back who were unavailable tonight.
“Both sides have seen each other play, both will know what each other are about, and we will learn from the mistakes of Saturday and tonight and hope that gets us a win.”