RUGBY TOWN: Back in FA Vase action this weekend

Kyle Rowley, back from injury against Sphinx    PICTURES BY MARTIN PULLEY
Kyle Rowley, back from injury against Sphinx PICTURES BY MARTIN PULLEY

Two good wins this week on a six-game unbeaten run

Rugby Town are back in FA Vase action this weekend, when they face a Second Qualifying Round tie against Smethwick.

Josh Ruff in Tuesday's cup game

Josh Ruff in Tuesday's cup game

With the hosts unable to play at their normal venue, the game will take place at MFL Premier Sporting Khalsa’s ground instead, and Valley will be hoping for a similar outcome to their recent trip there when they opened their league campaign with a 2-1 success.

Rugby will go into the match on the back of a six-game unbeaten run, which was extended over the past week with home victories over Coleshill and in the league cup against Coventry Sphinx.

The Coleshill success represented the division-topping visitors’ first defeat of the league season, and was a fully deserved outcome – with Dave Stringer’s men truly on their game from the off.

The three point haul lifted Town up into 9th place and draws them even closer to the higher echelons of the table. They are now three adrift of Worcester in 2nd and just two points shy of 3rd place Coventry United – although Valley have played one more game than two of the pre-season fancied sides.

Chadd Birch goes close against Sphinx

Chadd Birch goes close against Sphinx

This weekend’s Vase opponents play in the West Midlands Regional League Premier Division – the same level as the Bewdley outfit Rugby brushed aside 4-1 in the opening round of the competition two weeks ago.

After a good start to their league season which saw Smethwick record three straight victories, the Black Country club have gone on to slip to five defeats and a draw in their subsequent six fixtures and currently lie in 14th place in the table.

Town on the other hand have enjoyed five wins and a draw in their last six, and will be confident of progressing through to the First Round Proper of the competition they famously won back in 1983.

Full-back Craig Kelly was back in action against Sphinx on Tuesday evening after nearly two months out with the ankle injury he sustained at the end of the pre-season schedule, with keeper Niall Cooper and Josh Thornton also now both close to a return.

Aiden Print breaks down the right wing

Aiden Print breaks down the right wing

Cooper’s replacement Lewis Gwilliams has performed well though in the contracted keeper’s absence – conceding just two goals (both late consolations in cup games) in his last five appearances.

# If Saturday’s tie ends level, there will be a replay at Butlin Road next Tuesday (26th) with a 7.45 p.m. kick-off.

# The coach to Willenhall on Saturday will leave the clubhouse at 12 mid-day. For latest availability information contact Tony Mann on 07970 691366.

# Tuesday’s win over Sphinx has given Town another home tie against further Coventry opposition – Copsewood – in the next round of the League Cup. Fixture date to be confirmed.

Tevin Shakespeare started the Coleshill game on the right wing

Tevin Shakespeare started the Coleshill game on the right wing

James Dance was impressive as emergency centre back

James Dance was impressive as emergency centre back

Trey Brathwaite back in the starting line up on Saturday

Trey Brathwaite back in the starting line up on Saturday

Ben Ashby energised the midfield against the league leaders

Ben Ashby energised the midfield against the league leaders

Ruben Wiggins-Thomas battled up front

Ruben Wiggins-Thomas battled up front