Stringer optimistic ahead of important cup clash
Rugby Town boss Dave Stringer goes into Saturday’s FA Cup Third Qualifying Round game at Worcester City believing his side have more than a fighting chance of fashioning an upset against their Conference North opponents.
It is five years since Valley last featured at this stage of the competition, when a late, controversial penalty saw them lose out 2-1 to Bishop’s Stortford – after Neil King had got ten-man Town back on level terms.
A successful conclusion to the tie would leave Rugby just one victory away from the main F.A.Cup draw for the first time since 1994.
Stringer explained: “If we’re on our game this weekend, I truly believe we’re in with a great shout.
“Obviously Worcester are two levels above us, but I think we put in our best performance of the season last weekend in the Trophy at Chasetown - despite the loss.
“We were absolutely fantastic in the first half in particular – passing the ball around like we did at the heights of last season. Their manager told me after the game that we were head and shoulders above anything else they have faced at this level over the past couple of years.”
Chasetown’s double second-half strike knocked Valley out of the competition, although in part Stringer played down the impact of the exit.
“Of course we were disappointed with the result, but we’ve probably got enough to deal with at the moment with the league campaign and the F.A.Cup run.
“There’s currently a good spirit around the team and we’re in good form, so we will go to Worcester in confident mood and hopefully do ourselves justice there.”
Following the closure of their St George’s Lane ground, Worcester now share with Kidderminster Harriers at the Aggborough Stadium.
City’s form this season has generally been poor with just a solitary victory from eleven Skrill North league starts – including a 4-0 reverse in their most recent game at Stockport.
The two clubs are familiar foes over the years, with seventeen previous meetings in the Southern League and Cup competitions, and Rugby have the clear edge with nine victories to City’s five.
Town will welcome back Lewis McBride into Saturday’s squad, after he missed the Chasetown defeat through work commitments.
Stringer continued: “Lewis returning is a massive plus, as he is a key player for us. Everyone else should be available too – bar the long-term absentees.
“We’re also hoping to be able to have at least one new face on-board by Saturday. We’ve been trying hard in regards to new signings over the past couple of weeks, but each time they have fallen at the last hurdle.”
Stringer also confirmed that midfielders Sam Belcher and Robbie Banks are still both some way off a return to match action.
# Rugby are scheduled to host Banbury in the first round of the Southern League Cup next Tuesday (15th), although any replay required as a result of Saturday’s match against Worcester would take precedence.
# The draw for the Fourth (and final) Qualifying Round of the F.A.Cup will take place around lunchtime on Monday. Ahead of the weekend’s ties, Town are one of eighteen Southern League clubs still left in the competition.
# Saturday’s coach to Aggborough will leave the clubhouse at 11.45 a.m. There are still limited places available, and attendance should be confirmed with Tony Mann on 07970 691366.