Rainworth MW will wrap up their Evo-Stik NPL Division One South season on Saturday with a visit to player-manager Scott Rickards’ former club Sutton Coldfield Town.
And, although Rickards himself will miss the game while serving the first of a three-match ban, he is hoping that his side can put one over on the Royals so that they will have a degree of momentum to carry into next Tuesday’s Notts Senior Cup final at Hucknall, against league rivals Carlton Town.
The two finalists met at Rainworth for league points on Saturday, the game ending in a 1-1 draw after Tristram Whitman’s 50th minute goal for the Wrens was cancelled out by a bizarre equaliser six minutes later, Callum Lloyd’s attempted clearance rebounding of the Millers’ Billy Bennett and looping over keeper James Martin into the net.
That typified the second half of the Wrens’ season during which little has gone right for them, and a frustrated Rickards said afterwards: “You probably won’t see another goal like that for as long as you are in football.”
Monday’s local derby may have been billed as a rehearsal, but in reality it was some way from that, because both sides are going to have to make changes for the final as a result of cup-tied players, injuries and suspensions.
But Rickards hopes that the two sides will put on a better show than they did for the Easter game.
He said: “It wasn’t really a rehearsal.
“Carlton have similar problems to ourselves in naming their side, but I think that whoever plays for either team, it will be another evenly matched game.
“The League game was a typical end of season affair with little to play for, but next Tuesday there is a trophy at stake and I’m sure it will be a different contest altogether.
“I will be looking for a re-discovery of that old cup mentality where anyone can win it, and despite all the problems we have suffered lately, I think we have enough in our tank to do the job. We’ve faced some tough ties on our way to the final, but have dug deep to secure some convincing wins.
“We showed in Saturday’s goalless draw at Chasetown that when we work for each other we can be as good as most of the top teams in our division, but the difference is that we aren’t as consistent as they are at doing it.
“And we found it hard to carry that into Monday’s game because two matches in three days left some of the lads not so much with tired legs as tired minds – the decision making was poor and that spread through the entire team.”
Before the final, though, there is the matter of Saturday’s trip to Sutton Coldfield, and like Rainworth, the Royals have lost a number of players lately, many of their top names having left as, having missed out on the play-offs, the directors opted to consolidate their finances in readiness for a challenge next season.
Rickards is well aware that his former manager will be eager to put one over on him and bring down Sutton’s curtain with a win, but added: “It works both ways because we want a bit of momentum to carry us into Tuesday’s final.
“So we will try to look at Tuesday as actually starting on Saturday, and if we come away with a result from Sutton that will be a big boost for us.”