RUGBY TOWN: Bottom of table but home again after month on road

Goalkeeper Louis Connor was captain for last week's games    PICTURES BY MARTIN PULLEY
Goalkeeper Louis Connor was captain for last week's games PICTURES BY MARTIN PULLEY

Moran remains in charge for Northwich Victoria visit

Interim manager Gary Moran kicked off his return to Rugby Town with two close defeats over the past week at Lincoln and Spalding.

New signing Tom O'Callaghan in the game against Lincoln

New signing Tom O'Callaghan in the game against Lincoln

In both games, Valley lost out to late strikes by the home sides and as a result they have now been condemned to last place in the NPL South Division table.

Whilst the search goes on for a permanent successor to James Jepson, who resigned immediately after the club’s FA Cup defeat at Brackley, Moran is likely to still be in charge for the visit of Northwich Victoria to Butlin Road this Saturday – marking Town’s first home game for nearly a month.

This weekend’s opponents registered their first win of the league campaign last Saturday with an emphatic 3-0 home success over Stocksbridge Park Steels – a victory which lifted them off bottom spot themselves, leapfrogging Rugby who now have registered only four points from their opening seven games.

In addition to Jepson’s departure from the dug-out, it looks like it will be all-change across the pitch too, with a number of players having already confirming their intention to leave and others expected to follow.

With Nathan Fox signing for Coalville and Luke Smithson thought to be Carlton-bound, ex-Kettering trio Andy Gooding, Andy Hall and Jason Lee are all moving on too, with veteran Richard Lavery another already to have left.

Sam Belcher also failed to feature in either of the two defeats in Lincolnshire, whilst Jamie Tank was reported to have missed the Lincoln defeat on Saturday due to the birth of his child, although he was again absent from Tuesday’s match too.

Moran has moved quickly to plug some of the gaps, signing midfielders Tom O’Callaghan and Yannick Gomes and defender Elliot Palmer, with the trio making the step-up from lower level clubs Southam, Tividale and Coventry United respectively.

Aaron Stringfellow has also returned to Butlin Road, joining Moran for a third spell at the club, and both returnees occupied the full-back berths at Lincoln and Spalding, with another ex-Valley man Nick Preston helping out Moran on the touchline in the former game.

Fortunately one player remaining within the Town fold for now though is keeper Louis Connor, who despite the back-to-back defeats, kept up his outstanding start to the season with a number of fine saves – whilst also taking on the captain’s armband for the two fixtures.