In great form after two league wins this week
Rugby Town’s attentions now shift to cup football, after two more league victories over the past week lifted them up into third spot in the Southern League Central Division, writes Jon Venner.
This Saturday, Town travel to Blaby & Whetstone Athletic in the Second Round Qualifying of the FA Cup, giving the club a great chance of their best run in the competition since 2008 – when they narrowly lost at Conference regional side Bishop’s Stortford in the third round.
Blaby & Whetstone play in the East Midlands Counties League Premier Division – two levels beneath Valley in the non-league pyramid – and are currently 9th. The Leicester club do however have a number of games in hand over all of the teams above them due to their cup exploits, which has seen them enjoy their best ever FA Cup run.
Town go into this important game on a great run of their own though, after they followed up their record breaking 8-1 score line against Chertsey at the weekend with a 3-0 success at St.Ives on Tuesday.
The Chertsey thrashing saw them match their best ever Southern League performance, which came last season in a 7-0 victory at Woodford, and their good form means they have now catapulted ten places back up the table after three league wins in just eight days.
Valley boss Dave Stringer will welcome back Lewis McBride from suspension, with Richard Blythe also re-joining the squad after he missed the St.Ives midweek trip. Louis Harris is a doubt though, after the recent signing was withdrawn after half an hour on Tuesday.
Stringer will be hoping that his side have now fully recaptured their touch in front of goal, after their latest exploits saw them become the division’s top scorers so far this season.
Seb Lake-Gaskin’s brace on Tuesday saw him go level with David Kolodynski with five goals in all competitions, and midfielder Sam Youngs is also in scoring form – just one adrift of the strike pairing.
Assuming no replay is required from the weekend’s game, Town will then host Redditch in the opening round of the Birmingham Senior Cup next Tuesday (1st October).
The two clubs have a longstanding rivalry – dating back to Rugby’s first season in the Southern League in 1983 – although they have not met in a competitive game since February 2004, when the Reds ran out 3-2 winners.
After a seven year spell in the Conference structure ended in 2011, Redditch returned to the Southern League Premier Division, and are currently in 21st place.
# Having already bagged nearly £5,000 from their two FA Cup victories to-date, a further £4,500 is up for grabs from this weekend’s tie. If Town are successful, the draw for the next round of the competition is made around lunchtime on Monday.
# Valley’s cup endeavours will continue the following weekend, with a trip to Chasetown in the Preliminary Round of the FA Trophy.