First round qualifying tie at Butlin Road
Rugby Town return to FA Cup action this weekend when they welcome NPL South Division Chasetown to Butlin Road for a First Round Qualifying tie.
Chasetown boast an impressive recent record in the competition, reaching the First Round proper in 2005/06 and then the Third Round Proper two years later – the lowest ranked side to ever reach such an advanced stage.
Valley have been less successful over recent years, although last season they were unlucky not to progress into the final qualifying round, after losing out in after a replay against Conference North Worcester City.
Saturday’s opponents have started their league campaign well - with just a single defeat from their six matches to-date, and as a result they sit in 7th place in their table.
Their Achilles heel appears to be goalscoring though, with just seven league goals to their name – a problem that Town had themselves suffered from until last weekend’s six goal haul at Hanwell, which all but doubled their own league tally.
Unfortunately Dave Stringer’s could not follow up this with another win from their midweek home game against Daventry, where a 1-0 defeat saw them slip back down again to 11th in a Southern League Central Division still headed by Kettering.
Rugby and Chasetown met in the F.A.Trophy just over a year ago, with the Scholars overturning an early Alex Gudger strike to progress through to the next round, although in the two clubs’ previous meetings in the F.A.Cup in 1991 and 1997, it has been Valley that have ultimately come out on top.
Stringer should have both Richard Blythe and Jamie Towers available again from suspension and work commitments respectively, and he also bolstered his squad last week with the signings of goalkeeper Nick Bennion and Ben George.
Bennion joins from Kettering, having spent two seasons prior to that at St.Ives, and George – who made one first team appearance at Walsall – coincidentally arrives from Saturday’s visitors Chasetown.
Bennion and George made their first appearances in a Town shirt from the bench at Hanwell, before both starting against Daventry on Tuesday.
# If Saturday’s tie is drawn, there would be a replay at the Scholars Ground next Tuesday (16th).