RUGBY TOWN: Back in action against basement boys

Manager Dale Belford
Manager Dale Belford

Tividale visit after Valley frozen out last week

Rugby Town return to action this weekend with a home fixture against NPL South Division whipping boys Tividale, following the postponement of their game at Gresley last Saturday.

Despite the best efforts of the Derbyshire club, their Moat Ground pitch failed a morning inspection after the overnight sub-zero temperatures had frozen the surface.

This Saturday’s opponents Tividale look to be marooned at the foot of the table, eleven points adrift of the two nearest clubs to them - Carlton and Loughborough Dynamo.

The West Midlands outfit have recorded only two league victories all season to-date, although one of these was in the reverse fixture against Town near the end of August, when a Gary Mills’ Rugby side went down 4-3 at the Beeches.

Valley had twice dragged themselves back level in that game having fallen 2-0 and 3-2 behind, but a poor defensive display that evening did for Town – with Scott Dutton particularly culpable between the sticks.

The Tividale game proved to be Dutton’s last game for Rugby and seven further keepers went on to feature in goal for the club, before the arrival of current incumbent Sam Andrew at the end of November and with it apparent stability in that position for Town manager and an ex-keeper himself Dale Belford.

Tividale’s only other full return of the campaign came in September against Belper, although there were some positive signs in October and November where they did manage six draws from a series of seven consecutive outings.

However it appears that the status quo has once more been restored, as they come into Saturday’s game on a run of six straight defeats.

The story for Town is just the opposite of course, with Belford’s men unbeaten in five matches as part of a longer successful run of just one defeat in nine, although their inactivity last weekend did see them slip a place in the table to twelfth, after Market Drayton edged a one goal victory at Loughborough in one of only two games to survive the weather in the NPL South Division.

Belford is hoping to have a full squad to select from for the weekend game, with no injury or availability worries to concern him. He has also added another new face to the fold with the arrival of striker Andre Johnson on a dual registration agreement from National League North side Corby.

Johnson’s Corby team mate Kurtis Revan arrived at Butlin Road last month on a similar deal, and has gone on to make four starts for Town since. Like Revan, Johnson is a product of the Derby County academy and has also featured at Heanor, Worksop and Matlock before moving to the Steelmen.

He had been rumoured to be making the switch to Rugby at the same time as Revan, but chose to sign for NPL Premier Division side Stamford instead – where he made just two appearances from the bench for the Daniels.

# Last Saturday’s postponed game at Gresley has already been rearranged by the league, with the trip to Derbyshire now set for Tuesday 16th February.

Valley are due in the same county in their next game too, with Belper the destination next Saturday 30th January. Town are back on the road the following week too for the visit to current second placed side Coalville.

# A second meeting of the recently-formed Rugby Town Supporters Club will be held ahead of this Saturday’s Tividale fixture. The meeting is scheduled to start at 1.00 p.m. in the club’s hospitality suite. All supporters are welcome to attend.