Tough top of the table test on Saturday
Rugby Town’s promotion credentials will face close scrutiny this weekend, when they travel to Dunstable in the Calor League Central Division.
The Bedfordshire club have so far lived up to their pre-season billing as one of the potential threats at the top of the table with just two defeats in their opening twelve league fixtures, and they are just two points (and two places) below Valley – who stayed in second following their 3-1 home victory over Uxbridge.
Dunstable returned to the Southern League structure in August following a four year absence – doing so after coasting to the South Midlands Premier Division title with an unbeaten record of 36 wins and 6 draws from their 42 matches.
Having strengthened further in the summer with the signing of a number of experienced performers at their new level and above, their early season form has therefore come as no surprise.
The game comes little more than a week after the announcement of the sudden death of 28 year old Parys Okai – who featured for both Rugby and Dunstable in his non-league career.
Okai scored three times for Valley in his nine appearances in 2007, and ex-team mates and friends have been paying tribute to the one-time Luton Town professional footballer ever since the tragic news was broken.
Saturday’s game at Creasey Park sees Town and Dunstable face each other for only the third time in the Southern League, and Rugby returned back up the M1 in December 2004 after a 3-1 victory – which came two months after a 2-2 draw at Butlin Road.
Current Valley man Justin Marsden accounted for three of Rugby’s goals from those two games, and he will be looking to add to his 2013/14 total of five – assuming he fights off the ever-increasing competition for a place in the starting line-up.
This competition was intensified last week with the signing of winger Greg Kaziboni. The ex-Northampton Town player featured for the club in pre-season, but chose instead to sign for Conference North Brackley, but has now returned to Butlin Road – where he made his competitive debut against Uxbridge last Saturday.
With Sam Belcher continuing his recovery from injury by playing a full ninety minutes for Nuneaton Griff in their 3-2 win at Bromsgrove in the Midland Combination at the weekend, and Ashley Spencer’s rehabilitation also progressing well, Valley boss Dave Stringer could soon have up to ten players fighting for the four midfield berths.
However, the extra bodies may prove useful in the coming month or so, with Town now due to play twice a week every week in the run-up to Christmas.
Rugby’s fixture pile-up was not helped by the postponement of Monday’s League Cup tie at Redditch due to a waterlogged pitch.
The cup game has now been re-arranged for next Monday (18th), meaning the scheduled league trip to Royston has now been put back until Tuesday 17th December.
With the visit to Egham and the home match against Aylesbury also squeezed into the schedule for the 3rd and 10th of December respectively, and a date yet to set for the second round of the Birmingham Senior Cup against either Tamworth or Coleshill, there is plenty of match action coming up for Stringer’s men.
# The club coach to Dunstable will leave Butlin Road at 12 mid-day. For latest information regarding availability contact Tony Mann on 07970 691366.