As is always the case at this time of the year, games continue to come thick and fast for Rugby Town – with the club looking to build on their unbeaten start to the new campaign.
Valley kicked off their Evostik Southern League Central Division season in fine fettle at the weekend with a record equalling victory at Ashford.
The 4-1 success matched their best ever opening day win in their thirty Southern League seasons – a feat they have only achieved once previously at home to Hednesford in 1995.
They followed this up with a well-fought for point at home to likely play-off chasers Biggleswade on Tuesday evening – ensuring Town remained one of six teams in the division without a defeat from their first two games.
Attentions switch to the FA Cup this weekend, with the club desperate for a good run in the nation’s premier cup competition – a fact which manager Dave Stringer acknowledged at the recent fans forum.
It is nearly twenty years since Rugby reached the First Round Proper, and all too often they have disappointed in the interim period – having made the Third Qualifying Round just twice in recent times.
Town travel to Midland Alliance Studley in the Preliminary Round on Saturday. Stringer will need to make sure his side are on their guard and avoid being dumped out of the competition by lower level opposition for a third successive year – following on from Gornal last season and Wednesfield in 2010.
Studley reached the Preliminary Round after a 3-2 victory over Bloxwich, and are currently in 13th place in their league, having recorded five points from their first five fixtures.
Based near Redditch, the club finished up a lowly 17th in the division last season. The winners of Saturday’s tie will host Bedworth in the FA Cup First Qualifying Round on September 8.
Rugby then face the short trip to Daventry on August Bank Holiday Monday (27th) for their next league match.
Town’s local rivals opened up with a 1-0 home defeat to Beaconsfield, before snatching a 3-2 midweek victory at Leighton.
Having had a successful first ever season in the Southern League in 2010-11 – narrowly missing out on promotion through the play-offs, Daventry then struggled last time out, flirting with relegation for much of the campaign – before rallying a little towards the end of it to finish in 16th.
Valley are likely to come up against a number of familiar faces at Communications Park on Monday, with Gary Moran, Neil King, Ross Oulton, Scott Cross and Matt Gearing having all featured in their opening games – and Callum Burgess and Marcel Simpson also part of their squad.
Over the past week, Town completed the signing of Ellis Myles from Brackley, with the full-back going on to impress against both Ashford and Biggleswade. Stringer also added young midfielder Jack Dobson – son of ex-boss Tony – to his squad.
The club also secured the signature of striker Seb Lake-Gaskin on a one-year contract. Lake-Gaskin was in fine form in the warm-up campaign, and has continued this into the season for real with three goals from the opening two league games.
Stringer should have both Michael Williams and Ed Booth available for the busy Bank Holiday weekend schedule.
Williams missed both of the first two fixtures and Booth was unavailable on Tuesday. However, he will be without midfielder Richie Allen at Studley.
n Town’s Birmingham Senior Cup tie at home to Nuneaton has been arranged for Tuesday, September 18.
n The coach to Studley’s Beehive ground will leave the clubhouse at 12.15pm.
For information about availability on this, please contact Tony Mann on 07970 691366.
n In the event of a draw on Saturday, the replay against Studley would be played at Butlin Road next Tuesday (28th) – meaning that Monday’s game at Daventry would be postponed. Likewise, if Daventry draw their FA Cup Preliminary Round tie at Godmanchester Rovers, the local derby would have to be rescheduled.